The Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) celebrated a historic year in 2019 with a record six tournaments organised, including a first ever championships in the women’s Under-17 and Under-20 age-groups.
This is part of the organisation’s mandate to assist with the growth of women’s football in the region and member associations showed their full backing for the initiative by embracing the tournaments and giving support.
The men’s COSAFA Cup was lifted by Zambia in Durban, South Africa as they defeated Botswana in the final to regain the trophy they last won in 2016.
That was followed by the COSAFA Women’s Championship in Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa, where the home nation claimed the trophy for the third year running.
Concurrent to that tournament, at the same venue, was the inaugural COSAFA Women’s Under-20 Championship, where East Africa guest nation Tanzania walked away with the top prize.
It was the first time ever that a country from outside the region had won a COSAFA competition.
The first ever COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship was held in Mauritius, taking over from the boys’ Under-17 competition that had been played on the island for the previous three years. Another East African guest nation proved the winner as Uganda lifted the trophy.
The COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship was held in Blantyre, Malawi and Zambia proved the worthy winners in what was a tournament full of quality played in front of enthusiastic crowds.
And Zambia made it an unprecedented hat-trick of men’s titles when they won the COSAFA Under-20 Championship on home soil in December, their coach Oswald Mutapa having also led the Under-17 side to their success.
All six tournament were run to a very high standard and the challenges that inevitably rise with hosting international events were met.
As ever, COSAFA also left a lasting legacy in the centres where tournaments were held, with courses covering coaching, referees, administration and the media were conducted.
COSAFA’s aim is to secure partnership with a commercial sponsor or NGO to generate revenue specifically for ongoing courses to be rolled out to Member Associations.
There was also an Integrity workshop staged by partners Genius Sports, to take players and match officials through the dangers of match-fixing and what warning signs to look out for.
Genius Sports is a global leader to tracking irregular betting patterns and has partnered with COSAFA to monitor our region.
The six tournaments also saw massive growth in COSAFA media platforms through the year, which have become vital channels of communication to media and fans, not only in the region, but now across the world.
One of the major successes was COSAFA.TV, which through a media partnership with Caxton publishers, generated almost 2.5-million video plays of COSAFA content at the six tournaments.
This included a mixture of live matches, interviews and news, with all but the COSAFA Cup streamed live across the globe through COSAFA.TV.
With these kinds of numbers, the opportunity to generate revenue through advertising sales sits at conservatively R40,000 per month.
Other platforms currently in use are our COSAFA website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
There were some notable achievements for COSAFA nations outside of our own competitions as Madagascar made waves at their maiden appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, reaching the quarterfinals before being knocked out by Tunisia.
South Africa reached the same stage as they dumped hosts Egypt out the finals in the second round, while Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola were other Southern African teams that competed.
South Africa made a maiden appearance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France where they performed admirably, with tactician Des Ellis going on to pick up the CAF Women’s Coach of the Year prize.
Angola reached the second round of the men’s FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Brazil, where they lost to South Korea.
Botswana ousted South Africa from the qualification for the women’s football competition at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, but were themselves beaten by Zambia. Zambia reached the final stage of the qualifiers and will met Cameroon for a place at the finals.
CAF president Ahmad Ahmad was a guest at the COSAFA Executive Meeting that was held in Durban, South Africa in May, where he thanked the region for their backing and pledged financial support for the Zonal Unions.
The year 2019 also saw the expansion of COSAFA’s partnership with Spain’s LaLiga, which included equipment for Youth Festivals during all six COSAFA tournaments, while there was also an opportunity for COSAFA Men’s Under-20 Championship Player of Tournament, Patrick Gondwe, to have a trial with Spanish side CD Numancia.
A formal Memorandum of Understanding will be signed to expand LaLiga’s support even further in the coming years.
COSAFA also partnered with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Further discussion will take place with the UNHCR on ways in which COSAFA, together with its Member Associations, can provide support to their initiatives.