COSAFA’s continued evolution as a leader in the development of football on and off the pitch in the Southern African region has resulted in the organisation signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Spain’s LaLiga, ensuring a steady stream of activities in the coming years that will benefit the growth of the game.
COSAFA and LaLiga have joined forces in the past to put on a variety of events to the benefit of aspiring footballers, but the MOU formalises their partnership and will soon see conferences and workshops on corporate governance and sport management across the region.
Other aspects will include commercial and marketing activities, match organisation, security, international communication and digital strategies.
But the first initiative will see two players at the 2020 COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Spain in early 2021, where they will be able observe training sessions at elite clubs, learn the football culture and possibly take in a LaLiga fixture.
The players will be chosen by the Technical Study Group at the tournament, which concludes on Saturday with the final between Zambia and East African guest nation Tanzania at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
“This experience will be much more than just taking in the sights and sounds of Spain, it will show the two girls what it takes to be a professional player overseas,” says COSAFA General Secretary Sue Destombes.
“For most of the players who took part in the tournament, the dream is to be a professional footballer and for women across our Southern African region, that is now an attainable goal. But it takes hard work and dedication, as well as skill, and so a first-hand glimpse of what is required will be an excellent learning experience.”
Destombes also thanked LaLiga for their continued support for Southern African football.
“We have been in partnership for a few years now, but will step up our engagements and this MOU is an important step in that. LaLiga is one of the most prestigious football competitions in the world and leaning on their experience and expertise will be a huge benefit for our members.”
Marcos Pelegrin, who is the LaLiga Managing Director for Southern Africa, says the trip to Spain for the two players is just the start.
The same opportunity will be afforded two boys at the upcoming 2020 COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship that will be staged in Nelson Mandela Bay from November 19-29.
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“For LaLiga, it is a great pleasure to provide the platform for the girls to go to Spain and get to experience how development football is for our LaLiga Santander teams,” Pelegrin says.
“They will get the chance to train with some teams and to compare themselves with their Spanish equivalents. Also, if COVID-19 allows, we are hoping that they will get to watch one live LaLiga Santander game.
“This trip will be great for their football development, but even greater for their personal development. They will get to experience a different culture and expand their knowledge.
“Lastly, this is the first project that we run with COSAFA since the sign of our agreement and we are looking forward to running more projects with them.”
The Council of Southern Africa Football Associations is made up of 14 member countries – Angola, Botswana, Comoros Islands, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Reunion is an associate member.