'This region can only grow' - Desiree Ellis foresees bright future with Cosafa U17, U20 Women's Championships

The South Africa coach reflects on Wednesday's opening group match with the debutants at the regional showpiece

South Africa women's coach Desiree Ellis believes huge growth will be recorded in Southern Africa following the introduction of the Cosafa U17 and U20 Women's Championships.

The Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) had announced its maiden editions of the age-grade women's events will be held in Mauritius and South Africa, respectively, this year. 

And Ellis, who led Banyana Banyana to their first-ever Women's World Cup campaign in France, believe countries in the Cosafa region will grow faster and stronger with the new competitions.

“For the Under-20 teams it is fantastic that the competition is being played," Ellis told the media.
 
"It will help the profile of the teams and the profile of the region. Coupled with the U17 tournament in September, it is a big boost for the region.

“Zambia has been the U17 World Cup, as has South Africa twice, so having these tournaments in the region can only help the growth of women’s football in Southern Africa.

“With the All Africa Games coming up not long after the U20 tournament, it is going to help them prepare, which is fantastic.    

“This region can only grow from strength to strength, it is a great initiative from Cosafa, for us to be able to go watch the young ones and them to be able to come and watch us. We can inspire each other!

“People cannot imagine how Cosafa has helped us in preparing us for Afcon, to get to the World Cup."

The Cosafa Women’s U20 Championship kicks off on August 1 and runs until August 11, with hosts South Africa drawn against Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique in Group A. 

Group B has Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania and Eswatini for the tournament scheduled to be staged in Nelson Mandela Bay, alongside the senior Cosafa Women's Cup.