Women soccer events will no longer play second fiddle to male contests.

This emerged on Wednesday when the South African Football Association and Sanlam launched a second season of the Sanlam National Women's Football League.

Kedi Tshoma, a member of the women's committee at Safa, said the Sanlam Cup - which would be known as Halala - would help in the empowerment of women administrators and technical staff to create opportunities for young girls to fulfil their dreams of becoming professionals.

Tshoma said the move would not only give hope to rural young women of South Africa but would also build better lives and create jobs for all girls who played football.

"Sanlam's relationship with Safa has given our male counterparts a lift. We are sure that women will be given the opportunity to drive the process," she said. "The Cup will assist women football to achieve a 40 percent representation in the administration of football by 2006."

Yvonne Temba of the sponsors added they were looking forward to another season in which women in South Africa could be recognised for their talents and achievements.

"The theme is Sisters Doing It For Themselves and the theme song for the Women's League will be released soon," she added.

A percentage of the CD sales would be ploughed back into the trust fund which would be managed by Sanlam.

"The Women's Football League will culminate in the final being played in June next year," said Temba.

The Chief Operations Officer at Safa, Albert Mokoena, who has just returned from the UK where he attended an international football administrator's workshop, said women's football was reported to be by far the fastest growing sport.

"We encourage Sanlam to continue to share in this commitment and expand the shared vision. The route to world class women's football is through the various competitions and in particular the league.

"The significance of the Sanlam League therefore is its role in charting the path to world football and the creation of stars, role models and icons that would fit this challenge," he said. "We are looking forward to the women's 2003 World Cup tournament in China."

Soweto Ladies won the inaugural league last year. - Sapa