"The players were exposed to so much pressure as the coach needed to trim the squad from 29 players to 21 players as per the requirements of the tournament. That, on its own heightened the pressure as the team members needed to prove that they are worthy of retainment." - Simiso Shabangu, FirstTouch Africa
When South Africa decided to call herself using the name of a region, the other countries in the Southern part of Africa then seemed to be invisible. Even those that know about this region easily associate it with Nelson Mandela. Fortunately, the COSAFA Women's Championship showed that Southern Africa has more incredible things to offer. This September, the tournament which is organised by the Council of Southern Africa Football Association gathered the 10 teams from Southern Africa. They also invited Uganda and Cameroon not miss out on what the South has to offer.
Our interest is beyond the wins that were accomplished here but it is deeply in the three lessons that we could derive from from the battle that these ladies fought on the field. Lessons difficult to ignore as the 2018 Total Women's Africa Cup of Nations looms.
1. In the modern day of GOATs, the old adage of teamwork prevails
Desiree Scott of Canada and Andisiwe Mgcoyi of South Africa contest for the ball during the Women's Football first round Group F Match of the London 2012 Olympic Games between Canada and South Africa, at City of Coventry Stadium on July 28, 2012 in Coventry, England.
The tournament reminded us that if anyone is to succeed in anything they do, they should leverage the strength of other people. This was a lesson that was echoed by winner of the player of the match award in the final, Kaylin Swart, who was quoted saying "I want to say thank you especially to the girls as we could not have done it without each other..and honestly, it is a team effort." South Africa (Banyana Banyana) walked away from the tournament with the 2018 COSAFA title and they accredited that to the fact that they were willing to close the gap for each other and most importantly, were ready to accept each other's lesser strengths which is basically what teamwork is about.
2. Competition Brings Out the Best in You
Ideally, this tournament is meant for the Southern part of the region, but as mentioned two nations were brought in as guest nations. They were Cameroon and Uganda. These two teams outdid the Southern teams with Cameron making it to the finals while Uganda snatched the bronze medal. Had these teams not been here, countries like Zambia would have ended at a higher position. These guest nations came in for the competition, revealing to sides like She-polopolo of Zambia that that they still had something to work on. Sometimes we dislike competition but it is losing to teams like the Cameronian team that will enable Southern African teams to work on their weaknesses in preparation of the 2018 Total Women's Africa Cup of Nations.
3. Status Cannot Substitute Hard Work
Andisiwe Mgcoyi attends the Team South Africa Training Session at Sportschule Hennef on July 11, 2012 in Hennef, Germany.
More than any other country, Banyana Banyana has won the Women's COSAFA Cup a record, five times. They walked into the tourney as undisputable favorites also boasting of Olympic Games appearances. With such an impressive track record, one could think that South Africa should have rested and not worked as hard in the 2018 edition. However, ahead of the tournament, the Banyana Banyana coach called the team to a gruelling training camp in Johannesburg from the 5th to the 10th of September. The players were exposed to so much pressure as the coach needed to trim the squad from 29 players to 21 players as per the requirements of the tournament. That, on its own heightened the pressure as the team members needed to prove that they are worthy of retainment. The hard work invested into this tournament paid off for South Africa as they were able to defend the title. Surely, yesterday's victories do not guarantee today's victory if hard work is eliminated from the process.