Samuel Eto’o, four-time African footballer of the year, once again graced Johannesburg with his presence as he was on hand to kick off the second season of Castle Africa 5s. There was also a surprise amid the expected corporate promotions as a new women’s competition was announced to run parallel to the men’s edition.
The continental five-a-side competition, established last year by Castle Brewery, pits local teams against each other before the winners travel to the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam, for the final. The overall victors get to hang out with Eto’o at a European match which is yet to be specified.
At the launch, held at Chaf Pozi in Soweto, the organisers revealed that there will be a new women’s tournament introduced. Former Banyana Banyana star and analyst Amanda Dlamini in turn became the first female ambassador of the initiative, joining the other legends — Matthew Booth (South Africa), Ivo Mapunda (Tanzania), Tinashe Nengomasha (Zimbabwe), Christopher Katongo (Zambia) and Siza Dlamini (Swaziland).
“I’m very happy and excited that the South African women qualified for the World Cup,” Eto’o said on the sidelines of the event when asked about the development of women’s football. “I’m happy about the girls joining these games because they have a place in a competition like this. It’s women’s time all around the world and so it’s exciting to see this.”
While it is merely an amateur even, the women’s game in South Africa can arguably only benefit from having more competitions across the country. We are still waiting on the inaugural women’s professional league after all.
As for it just being a five-a-side format … “All the big players start on the five-aside,” Eto’o continued. “Five-a-side is very important because it helped me develop my technical ability and helped me play at a high level.”