South Africa’s Senior Women’s National Coach, Desiree Ellis said the upcoming World Football Summit (WFS) Africa is huge and has the potential to catapult the growth of the game in Africa to new heights.
The Banyana Banyana coach who will be one of the key speakers at WFS Africa that will take place in Durban from 17-18 March, said with so many experts drawn from across the globe sharing their experiences, the game can only be the winner after the event.
“But I think the implementation of these ideas and possible projects that come out of this summit is key to the growth of women’s football and the game in general,” she said in an interview with World Football Summit Africa this week. Ellis added that time frames should also be key in implementation processes of the outcomes.
Speaking mainly on the state of women’s football on the continent, Ellis who is the reigning Africa Women’s Coach of the Year, the title she won again last year, said for Africa to compete at the highest level and with the best in the world, the continent needs to get rid of some of the traditional obstacles that hinder the growth of the game.
“Companies must come on board and sponsor Women’s Football”
Ellis says the pace at how the game was growing was a bit tardy but hoped the WFS Africa summit and other new initiatives from the powers that be, would revolutionise the game and spur it to new heights.
This year’s CAF Africa Women Cup of Nations tournament will have 12 teams, a jump from 8 and Ellis thinks this is another potential catalyst for women’s football although support from the respective FAs remains the key driver. A few federations in Africa were actively participating on this front, leaving only a few teams active.
“Teams must stay active, have proper preparations for competitions and must participate in various domestic competitions. There is also need to consistently train more coaches within women football as this will help develop more female players. In addition to all this, companies must come on board and sponsor Women’s Football. No sport can survive without sound sponsorship and I hope the WFS Africa summit will extensively deliberate some of these issues and come up with a sustainable way forward,” added Ellis.
Not all is doom and gloom as things have improved a bit in recent years, with better competitions for women teams though such competitions according to Ellis, need to be on regular basis.
“Teams in Europe play each other consistently in all age groups and that has helped their game grow while in Africa national teams normally play only during international competitions”. Ellis said Africa was abound with raw talent and if fully exploited, the continent can see one of its teams win the FIFA World Cup.
Ellis said she is eager to make Banyana Banyana the best team on the continent.
“We showed a glimpse of what we are capable of at the FIFA World Cup last year in France. But obviously the dream and vision is to win the Africa Cup of Nations title because Nigeria has monopolised the competition over the year but we came very close in 2018.
“We also need to improve our African and global rankings and to qualify for the next FIFA World Cup. It is also great that most of our key players are going abroad but we also need to get more players at bigger and better leagues because the experiences gained is of immense value for the national teams,” concluded Ellis adding that Africa must take advantage of gatherings like the WFS Africa summit to exploit new opportunities.