Women’s League season: A conscious effort of bringing back the love the feminine way
The 2020/21 Ghana Women’s Premier League (WPL) season and the Women’s FA Cup competition will go down as one of the most well organized and competitive season since its inception, even at a time where the World has been plague with the COVID-19 pandemic. The season was interrupted by the pandemic – matches were played behind closed doors, a number of surprises recorded on the field of play and Hasaacas Ladies eventually reaffirmed their dominance by claiming an unprecedented double. Here is a comprehensive recap of the season with emphasis on organization, field of play, officiating, media coverage, prize money and investment among others.
The general organization of the 2020/21 Women’s Premier League and FA Cup competitions was simply amazing. To begin with, the Executive Council led by the indefatigable President, Kurt E.S Okraku and Habiba Attah Forson – Women’s Football representative reached a consensus to enroll players in the Women’s Premier League on the Youth Employment Authority (YEA) Programme. Each person earned five hundred Ghana cedis (GH¢500.00) as a monthly allowance for six (6) months and has recently been extended for another six (6) months. This benefit is the biggest motivation ever to happen to players in WPL.
The GFA also took into consideration the need for clubs to stay up to speed with technology and developed the IT infrastructure strategy where computers, scanners and internet connectivity devices were provided to all Premier League clubs.
Even though COVID-19 had an adverse effect on the activities for the season, it could also be seen as a blessing in disguise after the COVID 19 Relief fund from FIFA aided most of them in acquiring buses to ease their travelling difficulties.
Again, the GFA announced an unprecedented package where apart from the prize money of GHc50,000.00 for the (Premier League winner) – GHc30,000.00 (FA Cup Winners) and medals, the top two performing coaches in each zone have been given an opportunity of going on attachment outside the shores of Ghana to enhance their capacity.
Even without a title sponsor, clubs enjoyed sponsorship package from Melcom Ghana Limited, Decathlon Ghana (provided 1,500 Kipsta Balls) and sports products and recently, Woodin fabrics (Official Textile partner) Electroland Ghana LTD renewed their relationship with the GFA – this time the best player and Coach awards for the Premier League was extended to cover the Women’s FA Cup.
Ms. Barbara Yankah, Head of the Women’s desk at the Competitions Department played an instrumental role in the scheduling and organization of the competition.
‘’The 2020/2021 Women’s Premier League and FA Cup competitions have seen much improvement – it was highly competitive and generally an exciting season. The introduction of Club Licensing basic requirements i.e venues, Coaches’ qualification etc. saw clubs try their possible best to put in place the right organizational structures. Again the price money at stake, sponsorship from Electroland Ghana Limited, producers of the NASCO Electronic brand, the Youth Employment Authority stipends, Melcom Ghana Limited and Decathlon Ghana gave some motivation and urged the teams on. Our social media handle reports and the live streaming of matches was amazing. Referees played their part as well and generally it’s been an exciting season’’. Ms. Yankah added.
Chairperson of the Women’s Premier League Management Committee (WPLMC) Mrs. Hilary Boaten speaks fondly as she gives an overview of the season.
‘’Overall the 2020/2021 season has been very impressive. The clubs showed a lot of passion and as a committee we believe the qualification to the newly introduced CAF champions’ league for Women also played a huge part in making the season highly competitive. In terms of organization, it is only fair that I say kudos to the GFA and members of the WPLMC for a great organization even though there is always room for improvement especially in areas of officiating but overall, this was a very good season and I know it will even get better from here.
‘’Media coverage was good but I hope we get to the point where just like the GPL, we get a TV station to come on board and telecast the WPL games live as well.
‘’Again I would want to use this medium to appeal to corporate Ghana for headline sponsorship. I hope what our players showcased in the just ended season will compel some corporate organizations to come on board. Congratulations to Hassacas Ladies for winning this season’s League and also better luck next time to Ampem Darkoa Ladies’’ Mrs. Boaten added.
THE FIELD OF PLAY
After a long layoff from competitive football, one would have thought of a sluggish start to the season but Berry Ladies and Immigration Ladies got the season underway in an adept fashion. Nina Norshie unlocked the scoring floodgate with a 10th minute strike and in the final, while Doris Boaduwaa’s 84th minute goal locked it up for the entire season. Out of the 56 matches in the Northern Zone, there were 20 away wins, 21 home wins, 137 goals and 18 drawn games while the Southern Zone recorded 25 away wins, 21 home wins, 156 goals and 10 drawn games. In all, the season brought forth hundred and ninety-two (296) goals including the four goals recorded in the final.
Ampem Darkoa Ladies dominated the Northern Zone with an unbeaten run in all 14 matches and amassed 34 points while Hasaacas Ladies emerged winners of the Southern Zone with 33 points, losing to only Berry Ladies on match day 14.
Exciting, eager and an instant favourite at the Nana Ameyaw Park and the entire Zone was Comfort Yeboah, a young talented right back who was named Discovery of the Season. The young defender has already established herself as one of the top right-backs for years to come – after winning 3 NASCO MVP’s in the season.
In post, Grace Banwa was absolutely sensational with her heroics. Banwa’s agility and strong reflexes is World class. She conceded only seven (7) goals in the entire season to win the goalkeeper of the year award.
The resilience and experience of Janet Egyir was unparalleled. Egyir is good in the air, strong on and off the ball with an outstanding aerial ability earned her 4 NASCO MVP’s and the ‘Defender of the Season’ accolade with ease.
Another star performer in the season was Constance Serwaa Agyemang of Berry Ladies – she was crowned ‘Player of the Season’ based on her contribution to her sides’ league campaign. The young witty winger has pace, stamina, and was consistent with her performance which earned her the Nasco MVP six times this season.
She has a knack for scoring goals and with 17 goals, Ophelia Serwaa Amponsah won the ‘Top Scorer’ awards to climax a sensational season that will go down in history as one of the best ever witnessed.
The final game presented an opportunity for both Hasaacas Ladies and Ampem Darkoa Ladies to add up to their trophy collection – a tasked which was well executed by the ‘Dooooo Ladies’.
Yusif Basigi deserves credit for steering Hasaacas Ladies to a four Premier League title without too much fuss. They are worthy winners who have clearly proven to be the best women’s team in the country currently with another Champions League appearance up their sleeves.
The Women’s FA Cup ended on Saturday, July 3, 2021 at the Accra Sports stadium where Hasaacas Ladies beat Ampem Darkoa Ladies 2-0 to lift an historic double. Pairings were made on zonal basis until the quarter final stage where all eight clubs were seeded together. For the very first time, clubs from the southern zone travelled to the northern zone and vice-versa at the Semifinal stage. Ampem Darkoa and Hasaacas Ladies again dominated, got set for a final show down where Hasaacas Ladies again defeated the ‘Nanamma’ for the second time in seven days to climax a fine season with their first FA Cup title.
As part of the build up to the season, seventy-three (73) referees and assistant referees were taken through intense fitness test, the technical / theoretical aspect, Integrity and CMS training to prepare them for the task ahead. At the centre of the action and in front of the crowd at League venues, the referees came under constant pressure to make hundreds of split-second decisions correctly and also give fair judgment on the field.
The standard of refereeing was generally up to scratch. That notwithstanding, few in the likes of Rita Boateng Nkansah, Mansa Hommey, Lovia Boaduwaa, Felicia Addo excelled and deserved a pat on the back for the effort.
Referee appointment Committee Chairperson, Christine Enyonam Zigah is optimistic there is light at the end of the tunnel for her charges as she encourages them to do more.
‘’Generally, performance of our lady referees in the 2020/2021 Women Premier League/ FA Cup competition has improved tremendously compared with the previous seasons’’ Christine Zigah said.
‘’Before the commencement of the season, Referees had the opportunity to attend an integrity and refresher course at Prampram where they were taken through the latest amended laws of the game to update and improve their technical competence ahead of the league season. The impact of the course overwhelmingly reflected on the improved performance of our ladies during the season.
‘’The above notwithstanding, we have identified that there is more room for improvement as there were some avoidable basic errors committed during the season. This implies that some of them need to backup and improve their performance.
‘’We have identified some potentials ones among them, who will need some assistance for them to get to the top. The Referee Committee is so grateful for the patience and cooperation that the various Club handlers gave us that help the league and FA Cup to end successfully’’ she added.
Media coverage saw massive facelift as the GFA invested resources into coverage of the games this season than in time past. The GFA recognizes the importance of ‘New Media’ and how well it could be used as a tool of projection while serving as a way of bringing the women’s game closer to the masses.
Upon creation of two separate Facebook accounts (Women’s Premier League – Southern Zone and Women’s Premier League – Northern Zone) in addition to the main Ghana Football Association Page, two live broadcasts UV Solo equipment were secured purposely for live streaming of matches every weekend. At most, four matches were streamed weekly and this clearly bridged the accessibility gap which existed over the years.
The official twitter handle of the league, @wplgh_official came in handy and was swift in providing statistics ranging from match day stats, Pre-Match updates and Post-Match updates among others to complement the efforts of the existing traditional media and also to serve the General Public at large. This shear display of creativeness dispels the notion the season appears to have hit the low with media and publicity.
Clubs like Hasaacas Ladies, Berry Ladies, Police Ladies, Soccer Intellectuals, Dreamz Ladies, Ampem Darkoa Ladies among others deserve thumbs up for elevating their social media game which contributed in making the league trend on twitter, Facebook and other networks.
The traditional media (TV, Radio and Print Media) also deserve commendation for giving the 2020/21 Women’s League/FA Cup competition great coverage as well. The mentions on radio and TV were great as info-graphics were readily circulated via WhatsApp and other platforms. There is more room for improvement with publicity and the coming years will see more in the Women’s game.
There can never be a season without blemish. There were some issues of hooliganism and an attack on a match officials which should be condemn in uncertain terms but then the positives surrounding the 2020/21 Women’s League /FA Cup season far outweigh the negatives and it is only fair, more light is thrown on the positives and also how improve upon it when the new season is ready to be ushered in.
The introduction of special preview shows by Zainab Abubakar Bamba also deserves commendation and encouraged. The 10 minute packaged content aired on GFA News.
The Communications Department also introduced the WPL Highlights show that aired across GFA platforms.
Joan D. Chittister once said, a life of value is not a series of great things well done but it is a series of small things consciously done, a saying which perfectly depicts how the 2020/21 Ghana Women’s League and FA Cup competition has consciously punned out.
A season well organized!
A season well scripted!
A season well executed!
Adios to a season that will forever go down as one of the best in the annals of Women’s football history.