While the ongoing drought in the Western Cape has seen the delay in the start of this year’s Sasol League, most men’s leagues are continuing. The National First Division, ABC Motsepe League and SAB Leagues are about to wrap up their season and have continued playing largely as normal. But the women’s Sasol League will only start in June because some of the AstroTurf facilities being used for ABC Motsepe League are not open to women. Why can’t the facilities be shared?
In a year during which Banyana Banyana will once again try to earn World Cup qualification via the Women’s AFCON, a delay in the start of the 2018 Sasol League in the Western Cape is worrying. The highest level of women’s club football in South Africa kicked off around the country last weekend, but the Western Cape stream of the Sasol League will only begin their season in June due to the on-going drought in that province. Though it’s not SAFA’s fault, the lack of water has left pitches unplayable which means the start of the league has had to be postponed.
The National Under-17 girls’ team which qualified for the World Cup in Urugay in November has three Cape Town based players in Leigh Brophy, Miche Minnies and captain Kaylin Jordan. While team selection is usually based on current form, Coach Simphiwe Dludlu could find it difficult to select three of her key players who will only start playing competitive football in the second half of 2018, just before the team departs for a pre-World Cup tour of Spain. If they are selected, fitness will most certainly be an issue for the Western Cape based players.
Bantwana are not the only women’s national team that have been impacted by the drought. The senior national team will also be affected by this late start. Jermaine Seoposenwe, Leandra Smeda and Roxanne Barker are all based in Cape Town where there will be no club football for at least six months. Banyana Banyana coach, Desiree Ellis will have to tread carefully when selecting these players even though the trio have proven their worth by being included in Banyana’s 2016 Rio Olympics Squad. Seoposenwe and Smeda have helped Banyana win matches by scoring important goals. In June, Banyana will play in a two legged match in the Women’s Afcon qualifiers against either, Lesotho or Swaziland.
Ellis reckons having more astro turf venues in the country could help in avoiding having the sport delayed because of the lack of rain.
“Maybe more astro turf should be put up around the province because you can utilise that as well for an eventuality like this. A lot of the school sport has been stopped, all because of that. The fields are only getting worse and hopefully they can find a solution so that our leagues start in time in the future,” she says.