Women’s football in SA could thrive more when clubs like Kaizer Chiefs get involved

Kaizer Chiefs’ marketing director Jessica Motaung chats to Fifa president Gianni Infantino ahead of the Soweto derby against Orlando Pirates in November last year

Kaizer Chiefs’ marketing director Jessica Motaung chats to Fifa president Gianni Infantino ahead of the Soweto derby against Orlando Pirates in November last year. Photo: Phill Magakoe/AFP

Published May 12, 2024

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Two years after Jessica and Kemiso Motaung announced Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs’ plans to launch a women’s team “soon”, nothing has happened at Naturena in that regard. Two years later, there is Kaizer Chiefs Ladies FC to write home about.

With the women’s game growing in prominence in the country thanks to the recent successes of Banyana Banyana and Mamelodi Sundowns’ exploits on the continent and on the world stage, there has been a growing call for a professional domestic competition to be established.

And, a lot of fans have called on some of the country’s biggest football brands to get in on the action to help grow the game even more.

Speaking on Radio 2000 back in June of 2022, Kemiso, the youngest daughter of Kaizer Chiefs chairman Kaizer Motaung, said plans were afoot for the club to get involved in the women’s game.

“Yes we have been talking about it for a while. There were some intricacies we had to look at and we are still looking at,” she said in the interview at the time.

“But as the sporting director [Kaizer Motaung Jr] has indicated we will launch a Kaizer Chiefs women’s team this season.”

Naturally, there was a lot of excitement after she said that.

Now in 2024, dololo.

Kaizer Chiefs have not launched a women’s team. And by the looks of things, judging by older sister Jessica Motaung’s comments earlier this year, those plans seem to have taken a back seat after they failed to clinch a partnership deal with JVW FC.

"It's very challenging to have any club, whether it's a men's club or women's club – or just a youth club. You need the funding, you need the facilities, you need all sorts of things," Jessica Motaung told SABC Sport.

"I mean, if you look at the Hollywoodbets [Super League], which I'm very proud of – I think it's very good that we have a league like that.

"There just needs to be a structural change in that we need to be able to allow clubs – and I know Sundowns have also asked and really pushed – to have their own sponsors, we need boards to be able to let our sponsors advertise.

"These are challenges – it's not just, you have a team and that's it. You need the money to fund it and, to do that, sponsors need the exposure.

Currently, only three DStv Premiership clubs operate women’s teams in the Hollywoodbets Super League. They are Mamelodi Sundowns, TS Galaxy, and Royal AM.

Like in the men’s game, Sundowns have been the dominant force, and have won the title four times in a row. They are also the African champions.

Earlier this week, Stellenbosch FC launched their own women’s team to play in the upcoming 2024 Sasol Women’s League season after buying the status of Stellenbosch University.

This was a move the Cape Wineland club needed to take in order to be allowed to participate in continental competition after it was mandated as a requirement by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) last year.

SuperSport United, who played in the CAF Confederation Cup this year, met this requirement by partnering with the Tshwane University of Technology to form TUT Matsatsantsa Ladies FC, while Orlando Pirates linked up with the University of Johannesburg.

But, is that enough?

The absence of big clubs in women’s football will delay the full professionalisation of the sport.

The university clubs will continue to be seen as developmental teams, and there won’t be a buy in from supporters of local football, who are drawn in by big names and brand recognition.

Imagine watching a women’s Soweto derby between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.

It might not be as big as the event between the men’s team, but it’s not a bad place to start. Just take a look at what happened in England in January when 60 000 fans crammed into the Emirates to watch Arsenal take on Manchester United in the Women’s Super League.

With the helping hand from South Africa’s more recognised football brands, who knows, it might just put the already impressive growth of the women’s game in the country into hyperdrive.

* Lunga Biyela is a freelance digital journalist with IOL Sport.

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