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IT’S TIME WFA SHOWS HAND IN LEADERSHIP

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My dearest readers… In driving the point home today in this State-of-the-Nation-Sports-Address (SONSA), I probably need to amass the very courageous spirit depicted in a brilliant scene in one of my favourite movies of all time, The Town, starring Ben Affleck, which I watched probably for the 49th time on Saturday night.


Doug MacRay (played by Ben Affleck) enters the room in which his best friend Jim, brilliantly portrayed by Jeremy Renner, is sitting alone, bored out of his mind. “I need your help. I cant’ tell you what it is. And you can never ask me about it later. We’re going to hurt some people,” he says. Jim looks up at him, deadpan, and responds, “Whose car we gone take?”


The scene, as my favourite South Africa’s Sunday Times columnist, Ndumiso Ngcobo once wrote in the movie review, is as chilling as it is a beautiful summary of human friendship.


Allow me, dear reader, to drag Women Football Association (WFA) Chairman Sonnyboy ‘Jazz’ Mabuza out of his comfort zone in the same manner and he better not ask any questions because it is about time the WFA shows a hand in leadership right now.


It is time to show a lot of hunger and ability to turn the sport’s fortune around because the game’s number one citizen, FIFA president Gianni Infantino, has an affinity for women’s football that knows no bounds.
He is drunk in love with the women in shorts, running on a football pitch and kicking some balls, literally and figuratively speaking.


Passion


Infantino’s passion for women’s football has seen the international football mother body pump in US$500 000 (E9 million) specifically to women’s football, on top of the recent US$1 million available to all the 211 member affiliates.


This is a vote of confidence by the FIFA top brass in the quest to ensure women’s football stake its well deserved place in the football family. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has also shown the same willingness to embrace women’s football, as they will be launching the CAF Women’s Champions League next year.


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the planned 2020 edition of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations has since been cancelled.
Down south, the COSAFA is not to be outdone, with not just Under-17 and Under-20 level of Women’s football, but even a senior’s tournament.
The Under-17 tournament was put on ice, due to the coronavirus outbreak while Lesotho will host the Under-20 tournament if all goes well.
The amount of work done by COSAFA through its General Secretary Sue Destombes and our own chairman of the Organising Committee, Timothy Shongwe, is commendable, to say the least.


Threatened


That’s why it is crucial that our own WFA rises above all the petty squabbles that not long ago threatened to drag the sport to the gutter, and rebuild its brand image.
It is important now, more than ever, to show there is a direction where they are taking the sport to and most importantly, how they are going to develop it at grassroots level.


This is no longer just about the Eswatini Football Association (EFA) interested in the vote from WFA come election time, but to seriously develop the sport.
Women football has venue challenges, which are further exacerbated by the archaic muti beliefs that the women teams cannot raise the curtain for the men’s football.


It is shocking to see women football teams having make-shift dressing rooms at times at Somhlolo National Stadiums and not allowed to use the same dressing rooms available to the men’s teams.
This shameful act must stop if we truly want to develop the sport and embrace our sisters as part of the football family.


Right now, we have the national league and the EswatiniBank Cup for the ladies, but the way the women’s teams are disregarded as a ‘by-the-way’ in the big events even under the same tournament is a grave cause for concern.


FIFA president Infantino has led the way in showing the seriousness the organisation is giving women’s football and it is time our own WFA also does the same. There should be a proper plan and vision of how to develop the sport.
Regional leagues are the next feasible goal the WFA has to attain so that in the end, they have a strong national team. The organisational part is crucial now.
Objectives
FIFA’s E9 million cannot go to waste. There are so many international tournaments now to encourage every female footballer to take her career seriously. But it has to start at the top with proper administration, clear-cut developmental goals and objectives.
The EFA can no longer treat the WFA as just one of those affiliates they remember when election time comes around.
Women’s football is an important stakeholder and FIFA has sent the message loud and clear.
Just as Doug MacRay, in the thrill-a-minute movie, The Town, told Jim, Sonnyboy, let’s get out of the comfort zone and do justice to women’s football.
It’s non-negotiable, I dare say. You can ask me later.

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