Last month saw the start of a historic partnership when South Africa’s leading sports betting operator, Hollywoodbets, claimed the title sponsorship of the 14-team SAFA National Women’s League. This sponsorship deal is a huge boost for women’s football and a giant stride for women’s sports, in general.
With this new partnership, the landscape of professional women’s football is changing rapidly. The funding from the Hollywoodbets sponsorship is sure to spell success for women’s sports and South African sporting in the future.
South African Football Association (SAFA)
Founded in 1991, the South African Football Association was founded after South Africa’s history of apartheid. Since then, SAFA has been a unified organization open to all players and fans alike.
The SAFA organization has been very vocal about its plans and goals for the next two years. They claim that 10% of the South African population must play football. In order to accomplish this goal, they have created a 2-year plan going forward.
Spelled out in its Vision 2022, SAFA reiterates the importance of sport in South African culture, the need to promote football in school programs, and its goal of strengthening women’s football in the near future.
Sasol Women’s League
Formed in 2009, the Sasol Women’s League is SAFA’s provincial women’s football league, created when Sasol and SAFA went into partnership in support of women’s football. The league is made up of 144 teams and 2800 female players that compete within the nine provinces on a regular basis each year.
The Sasol Women’s League has afforded many female athletes the opportunity to play competitively in regular games throughout the year. Each season, the Sasol Women’s League champions then can earn promotion into the Hollywoodbets Super League.
Hollywoodbets is one of Africa’s leading sports betting platforms in the country. From humble beginnings in 1986 distributing horseracing cards, they’ve since expanded their operations to include sports betting and mobile betting services that cater to the entirety of South Africa and the online community.
Even though online casinos are banned in South Africa, Hollywoodbets have found a way around the regulation and are able to provide access to casino games. The SAFA National Women’s League is not the only organization that Hollywoodbets has plans to sponsor, either.
The sports betting platform already collaborates and plans to collaborate with a number of other sports teams and properties in South Africa, including KwaZulu-Natal-based rugby union team the Sharks, and holds the naming rights to Kingsmead Cricket Stadium, the home of cricket franchises the Dolphins and Durban Heat. This sponsorship is unsurprising, considering their public goals surrounding sports development in all of its aspects.
The new league
With Hollywoodbets as the new title sponsor, the 14-team league will now be known as the Hollywoodbets Super League. Formed in 2019, the Hollywoodbets Super League is South Africa’s premier women’s football league. The league is comprised of 14 teams that won promotions from their respective Sasol Women’s League provincial streams.
Each team is promoted through merit from their respective provincial leagues. With the advent of a new league comes new prestige, competition, and, of course, prize money to the victors.
The Hollywoodbets Super League is the premier South African women’s football league and winners receive R2 million in prize money when they win. Perhaps even more important than prize money, winners will receive an automatic entry to the CAF Women’s Champion League. The winner of that tournament will then go on and play in the FIFA Women’s Club World Cup.
“For the first time, the National Women’s League has a commercial partner,” Safa president Danny Jordaan said. “This investment will further help us to strengthen the clubs in order to accelerate the growth and development of professional women’s football in our country.”
The initial sponsorship money will be spent towards promoting the league itself and jumpstarting local South African ventures to South African players, boosting the sport and the nation as a whole.
Getting a major sponsor is one of the first steps necessary to climb the ranks in the world of professional football. With this first sponsor and cup, the funds raised will promote new players, growth, training, and community involvement.
Hollywoodbets is the first sponsor ever to back women’s football in South Africa and hopefully, won’t be the last. With these two organisations working together, the future of both South African women’s sport and sports betting in South Africa has a brighter future than ever before.
South African female athletes have lately been on the rise and the newer generation is scattered across the world, playing for some prestigious clubs and universities. The clout that comes with having their first major sponsor can only help promote them on the world stage and it will be interesting to see the direction they take as they keep growing their franchise and players.