Desiree Ellis believes Varsity Women’s Football is an ideal platform to grow women’s football. Photo:

JOHANNESBURG  Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis and star player Bongeka Gamede believe Varsity Women’s Football is an ideal platform to grow women’s football in South Africa.

The most talented university footballers will be Potchefstroom for the Varsity Women’s Football tournament from September 19-21, with the final taking place on September 26.

The tournament takes place at North-West University, with selected games televised on SuperSport 204 and 210.

Eight teams will compete, including current champions Tshwane University of Technology. They will be joined by University of Johannesburg, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Zululand, Central University of Technology, University of Free State, University of Pretoria and University of the Western Cape (UWC).

Ellis lauded the quality of the tournament and how it has been a feeder to the SA national team, Banyana Banyana.

“Varsity Football has been key in the evolution of Banyana as well as the personal growth of the individual players,” said Ellis.

“The quality of the tournament is evident by the number of players who came through the competition and were part of our World Cup squad, including names like Refiloe Jane and Thembi Kgatlana.”

Ellis also highlighted the importance of the players receiving an education while playing.

“It goes hand-in-hand and also gives an opportunity to football players to get an education. When I played in the national team, 90 percent of players were unemployed. Now, approximately 90 percent have degrees or are currently studying.”

Banyana star Bongeka Gamede, who will be representing UWC, believes so many national players come out of the tournament because of the quality and competitiveness.

“We have eight teams from all the universities,” she said. “That means only the best teams compete in the tournament.

“Although the tournament is tough, it is also a good platform for players to improve and become better. Because the competition is high, it forces players to be at their best for the entire tournament.” 

African News Agency (ANA)