The country’s four top university women’s football teams will chase Varsity Football glory along with their male counterparts, when they participate in a “mini challenge” over the next two weeks.
The ladies teams of the University of Johannesburg (UJ), University of Limpopo (UL), University of Pretoria (UP-Tuks) and Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) – who finished in the four top spots at the USSA competition of 2012 – will face off in two matches on Monday September 9th.
The winners of these matches will play in a final seven days later, on Monday September 16th.
This coincides with the final stages of the Varsity Football challenge for men, in which a champion will also be crowned on 16 September.
The decision to include a smaller women’s competition is the first step towards a fully fledged women’s challenge in the future.
“The development of women’s football is high on the agenda of University Sports South Africa (USSA) and the national body, SAFA, and against this backdrop, it is also a priority for the University Sports Company (USC),” said Flip van Zyl, the Chief Executive Officer of the USC.
“Aside from giving the four top sides a change to compete against each other at this level, we will also give some financial assistance to USSA Football and to the women’s football teams of the eleven member universities of the USC, with an eye on the further development of women’s football at university level.”
USSA head of football Dennis Tshabalala said: “USSA Football has always looked after both Men’s and Women’s programmes, as we believe it helps with the growth of football holistically. This competition is by its nature a continuation of the already existing programmes.”
Kenneth Neluvhalani, who stands at the head of football at Tuks, said the two week long women’s competition “will take our women’s programme to another level”.
“Despite its short period, the event will definitely enhance our programme, as more of our students will be making efforts to participate in it,” said Neluvhalani.
Tuks has already achieved success in the men’s competition and will play in the first semifinal against NWU-Mafikeng, at 16:30 at their home ground. Preceding this, the Tuks ladies will lock horns with the women from the UJ, at 14:00 on the same field.
The other men’s semifinal takes place at 19:00 at TUT stadium, between TUT and NMMU. Before this, at 16:30, the TUT ladies will take on the University of Limpopo.
TUT’s Constance Madima described the involvement of ladies teams in Varsity Football as “a marvelous opportunity”.
“Student players are at this stage dominating the SA national team and I think introducing a national league like this can only benefit ladies football,” said Madima. “It will also serve as a wakeup call to those in power that women also deserve support.
“The exposure for both the university and the players will encourage women to partake in the sport, at TUT and across the country.”