Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE Southern Region Women’s Soccer League has agreed a deal with Thembalethu Foundation as title sponsors of the 2018 season expected to kick-off on Saturday.
The foundation, which sponsored the region’s 2016 and 2017 end of year eight-team tournament, decided to incentivise women’s football in the region by buying title rights for this season.
Takundwa Chimundiya, Southern Region Women’s Soccer League chairperson, hailed the partnership with Thembalethu Foundation and believes this will open more opportunities for the league.
“Some people might feel that the deal we just signed with Thembalethu Foundation is little, but we believe this is the first step towards good things for women’s football. The girls have for a long time been playing for absolutely nothing, with club officials sacrificing a lot just to get the girls to play for no returns. At least this partnership gives girls something to play for and in turn helps motivate them to give their best knowing that there are individual prizes to be won at the end of the season,” said Chimundiya.
Ten teams, Inline Academy, New Orleans, Highlanders Royals, ZRP Bulawayo, Blackboots, Magwegwe, Ubuntu, Sobukhazi, Bulawayo Polytechnic and Street Sets, have affiliated with the Southern Region Women’s Soccer League.
At the end of the season, all teams will get playing kits. The winners will also get a trophy and gold medals, with runners-up receiving a shield and silver medals.
The foundation will also give all teams warm-up kits as part of the deal, which has individual prizes for the top goal scorer, the best goalkeeper, best defender and the outstanding midfielder.
Kevin Marley of Thembalethu Foundation is happy with the partnership and believes it will create excitement and develop women’s soccer.
“Our objectives as a foundation are to change the life of the girl child through sport and we believe football is the right avenue to achieve these goals. We realised that in as much as we celebrate the girl child through football at the end of the year, that’s a once-off event for the year. To be effective in helping develop as well as create excitement among the girls, it is better to channel resources we gather for the tournament to the league,” said Marley.
“We will also have awareness programmes during the season tackling issues affecting girls, such as sexual abuse, drug abuse, unwanted pregnancies and forced marriages, among others. We are confident that through football, we will be able to keep girls busy and share some life skills with them.”
Marley is a former Highlanders’ junior player, who is now a Scottish FA qualified scout.
He said the prizes might increase as they are engaging overseas-based Zimbabweans to help the league.
UK-based artist Sisa Senkosi, who is involved in a number philanthropic programmes, has been roped in by Thembalethu Foundation to harness resources. – @ZililoR