JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — The second staging of the COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship will take place in Mauritius from April 17-26, with the much-anticipated draw where teams will learn their fate scheduled for Wednesday in Johannesburg.
COSAFA introduced the new championship in this age-group level last year, where East African guest nation Uganda ran out inaugural winners. That event was also staged in Mauritius, and there will be a return to the islands for this competition, a fifth year in a row that the Mauritius Football Association has staged an Under-17 championship following the men’s competition that was played between 2016 and 2018.
“We are grateful to the Mauritius Football Association for their eagerness to host the COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship once more, their support for football in the Under-17 age-group, men and women, has been exemplary over the past five years,” COSAFA Secretary General Sue Destombes said.
“We have seen an explosion of interest in women’s football from our members and these tournaments are crucial in providing international exposure to young players at the very start of their careers. “We will have a competitive field again this year and look forward to another tournament that provides a glimpse of the stars of tomorrow.”
The eight teams that will compete in this year’s championship are Botswana, Comoros Islands, Eswatini, Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The teams will be drawn into two pools each containing four sides, with the top two nations in each group advancing to the semifinals.
The draw will take place at 12h00 on Wednesday, will be streamed live via www.cosafa.tv. The two venues earmarked for the tournament are Saint Francois Xavier Stadium in Port Louis and the Auguste Vollaire Stadium in Flacq. Uganda claimed the title last year when they defeated South Africa in the decider, with Botswana and Zambia the other two semifinalists. The latter would go on to collect the bronze medal.
As ever when COSAFA stage an event, there will be CSI programmes put in place to leave a legacy for years to come. COSAFA, in partnership with Spain’s LaLiga, last year hosted a Youth Festival, which followed a CAF Level D course run by COSAFA to train 20 female grassroots coaches in the country.
“The programmes we run during the competition are a vital component of what we do, providing some sustainable outcomes for our hosts that hopefully help them to develop the game further,” Destombes said.
“Whether this is on the pitch, or the training referees, coaches and administrators, we always want to leave something behind to fulfill our mandate of growing the game of football in South Africa.” The COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship is the first of six tournaments, three each in the men’s and women’s category, that are scheduled to be staged in 2020.