Mamelodi Sundowns proudly took part in the very first African edition of the World Football Summit that took place in Durban this week. Chairman of the Club, Tlhopie Motsepe, and Senior Performance Analyst, Goolam Valodia spoke on different panels at the summit, which also saw Masandawana represented at the expo centre in the form of a popular yellow stand with pamphlets and giveaways.
The growth of women’s football in Africa, albeit at a slow pace, is one of the topics that were the highlight of the summit. As part of his keynote contribution, which was followed by nods of agreement, Tlhopie Motsepe said “A big reason why we are not seeing women in these leadership roles is because a lot of the power still sits with men. With that being said, men must be part of the solution. The agenda to promote Women’s football needs to be driven by those in leadership (especially men) and we are happy to be part of those driving the change.”
Motsepe believes the summit benefits everyone in football with the exchange of ideas and providing platforms for a variety of voices, “It’s an opportunity to learn about technology around sport and the overall development of sports from different people.” Tlhopie Motsepe was in a panel discussing Women’s Football in the African Continent and defeating stereotypes to seize unique opportunities whilst Goolam Valodia spoke about how the Mamelodi Sundowns analysis department uses technology to stay ahead of the curve.
“As much as Data has become an important and vital component of sport, we need to also be cognisant that we are dealing with people and not dehumanise football. We have to always remember that, it is the person who competes and not data”, said Valodia as he touched on the balance of data usage and the human aspect of players.
Mamelodi Sundowns is not just paying lip service to the advancement of women in leadership and decision-making. He indicated that women are involved in different roles and departments of the club and revealed that the Chairperson of the club’s supporters unit is a woman. Internally, three departments are headed by women-Marketing, Production, and Social Media. The Mamelodi Sundowns Live Limitless Internship Program which started in August is dominated by young women, with 80% representation.
“Our Marketing, Production, and Social Media Managers being women also helps us at the club to speak to different audiences of women in football and make the right decisions about our women’s football team,” concluded Tlhopie Motsepe
Amongst the club’s Chairman where Defeating stereotypes in women’s football to seize opportunities was the topic of discussion, Lola Ogubonte (Head of Women’s Football at Burnley FC), Romaney Pinnock (Founder of FC Badgers) and Paul Dreisbasch(Founder of Petrichor FA) formed part of the panelists. Dr. Mariam Mell’Osiime Mpaata who was the panel moderator and is the founder of Afrika Sports Foundation emphasised the importance of defeating stereotypes in sports.
The World Football Summit Africa is a significant global conference for the African football industry that not only brings together key figures to discuss important issues but also creates business opportunities. Mamelodi Sundowns as one of the innovative and forward-thinking clubs is always looking for ways to improve in its entirety and draw positive attention to women’s football in the continent.
Being one of the very few football clubs in the PSL with a Women’s team, there is a need to have more competition in terms of tournaments to create a more competitive league that will contribute to the growth of Women’s football.