There are few opportunities for girls younger than ten to participate in competitive soccer. Those who are interested in the game have to play with and against boys. This hampers the grassroots development of the women’s game in a country where Banyana Banyana already participated in their first FIFA World Cup and have recently won the Women’s African Cup of Nations (WAFCON).
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To address the gap, the University of the Western Cape (UWC) today launches She-Bobo at UWC – a soccer league established exclusively for girls under-8 and under-10.
Dr Danny Jordaan, South African Football Association president and UWC alumnus, says the league’s launch could not have come at a better time.
“It is a project that we are certainly delighted about and will support. It’s in the context of us making a bid for the Women’s World Cup in 2027. We are going to launch our intention to bid and then a full bidding process will be outlined by FIFA … around the time that we will see the launch of She-Bobo. It is indeed a wonderful initiative,” he said.
“UWC has made its contribution. More than 15 of our national team players come from UWC – both in terms of sport and education. Many of them are graduates and it’s no wonder that 80 percent of the Banyana team are graduates. It is something we encourage. We hope these girls that start at an early age will eventually enrol at the University to continue their studies. This is one of the most important things: sport and education, and not a choice between a sporting career and having an education.”
Professor Tyrone Pretorius, UWC Rector and Vice-chancellor and himself a notable soccer alumnus, said “It is our hope that She-Bobo becomes the blueprint for how universities around the country can engage communities through sport and become the drivers for social change as the anchor institutions in our society.
“As we celebrate our heroes as the WAFCON champions, we welcome the new cohort of future stars gracing our sporting fields in the She-Bobo at UWC league. We will be watching with great interest the progress of these little superstars, from goals to graduation gowns.”
She-Bobo at UWC will include soccer clubs in neighbouring communities and across the metropole to play in a league of their own in 2023. On 22 October 2022, a showcase festival will be presented – as a taste of what is to come – where girl footballers from ten clubs will participate in a day of soccer fun at the UWC Stadium.
The league is the brainchild of UWC Media and Marketing manager, Gasant Abarder – off the back of the University already being a hub for women’s football.
UWC is home to a Senior Women’s football side that finished third in the Hollywoodbets national football league in 2021 and won the prestigious 2021 Varsity Football tournament in the same year.
Their alumnae include Thembi Kgatlana, a former African Women’s Footballer of the Year, who played European Champions League football and who scored South Africa’s first-ever goal in a women’s World Cup.
The University’s modern facilities and PSL-approved playing fields will play host to She-Bobo at UWC. But more than its impressive facilities, the university will expose the girl footballers to its academic disciplines in higher education where attending a university is not an option in many communities. Their families will become accustomed to university life long before they enter the doors of learning as students.
The University will provide playing kit and equipment, facilities, security, infrastructure, coaching workshops, referees, transport, meals and refreshments.
“We believe that creating a platform for junior girl footballers is an investment in young girl children. We want to be a game changer as a catalyst for social change and a conduit to the girl child realising her full potential – from excelling on the playing field to eventually graduating from UWC as a well-rounded citizen of the world. At UWC, we know full well how talented girl footballers are in a league of their own. We want to be their springboard for a whole new world that connects possibilities,” said Abarder.
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