Football in the region received another major boost with the announcement on Saturday that three future tournaments of the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations will be held in the North West Province.
It follows a determined commitment from the North West Government and the Bakgatla Ba Kgafela to make the Province the ‘home of Cosafa’ for the next three years.
The annual U-20 Cosafa Cup will be held in the province next year; the Cosafa Castle Cup in 2017 and the Cosafa Women’s championships in 2018.
These follow the success of the last Cosafa Cup in the North West Province in May where crowds packed out the Moruleng Stadium and Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace for the best of southern African football.
The announcement follows the successful conclusion of the annual Cosafa Annual General Meeting in Sandton on Saturday.
“We are delighted to be able to bed down the hosting of these competitions in partnership with Host Association SAFA together with the North West Province and the Bakgatla Ba Kgafela. It is a major boost for football in the region,” said Mr Suketu Patel, President of COSAFA who thanked the South African Football Association for agreeing to play host.”
The Assembly was also informed about the Cosafa U17 Youth Championship that will be hosted by Mauritius in July 2016, an event which the Mauritius Football Association as well as the Government of Mauritius view as being preparatory to the development of their U17 team.
Patel said it was proof that COSAFA remains a mainstay of football development in the region and with the focus not only on senior teams but also junior and women’s football, the future for the region looks much brighter.
“We will be laying the foundation for future success to come with all this work,” he added.
Mr. Patel spoke passionately to his Congress about more women’s participation, which follows on the incredible success for the region with South Africa and Zimbabwe both qualifying to represent the continent in the women’s football tournament at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“That is concrete evidence of the depth of talent and potential and with better harnessing of resources, just what can be achieved,” he said.
Next in the line of business was the formal public signing by COSAFA’s President and Alastair Hewitt – General Manager of Castle Lager – Africa at SABMiller of the new 5 year Castle Lager headline sponsorship of the COSAFA CASTLE CUP, the first of which will be hosted in Namibia in May 2016.
The Cosafa Congress was also addressed by four of the five candidates for the FIFA presidency, which will be decided in Zurich at the end of February.
They were Tokyo Sexwale of South Africa; Jerome Champagne of France; the Asian Football Confederation President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa and Gianni Infantino, Secretary-General of UEFA, the European controlling body.
The fifth candidate, Prince Ali bin Hussein of Jordan, spoke by video link to the 14 members association Presidents.
Mr. Patel thanked them for gracing the region while at the same time giving the member associations the opportunity to make an informed decision on February 26.