Zambia’s Tisilile Lungu and Jessica Wade from South Africa will enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Spain next year courtesy of LaLiga after being rewarded for their performances at the 2020 COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship that finished this past the weekend.
Lungu was named Player of the Tournament as Zambia were edged on penalties in the final by Tanzania, while Wade captained her side with distinction, supplying goals and assists as the home side finished third in the pool.
The Technical Study Group that analysed all aspects of the action on the pitch highlighted the contribution of the duo for their sides, and felt they were deserving of the offer made by LaLiga to take two players from the competition to Spain.
The pair will get to train with local sides to understand the level required to be a professional in Europe, see the sights and sounds of Spain and, if COVID-19 allows, take in a Spanish LaLiga game.
“It’s an incredible opportunity and such a wonderful surprise, I had no idea something like this existed,” Wade tells COSAFA.com. “To get the message that says you have an opportunity to go to Spain and train with local clubs and learn about their football culture is incredible and such a wonderful opportunity.”
Wade admits that her South Africa side had hoped to go all the way in the competition.
“It was more the results actually than how we played. It was unfortunate to end where we did, but the two teams that finished at the top deserved to be there and played better football than us.
“Individually, I didn’t have a bad tournament. It wasn’t absolutely fantastic because I couldn’t do for the team what I would have liked.”
Lungu is also delighted with the chance to go to Spain and test her skills there.
“I’m so excited and I’m looking forward to meeting other people and to learn from them,” she says, adding she hoped to emulate the likes of current senior national team star Barbra Banda, who has played in Europe and China.
“I do admire her, I also want to reach the position where Babra Banda is. I also want to be there.”
The same opportunity will be given to two players at the 2020 COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championship that kick-off in Nelson Mandela Bay on Thursday.