The FIFA Women’s World Cup Trophy has completed its tour of the four African nations that have qualified for the tournament’s 2023 edition, which will be held in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20.
The coveted golden trophy began its tour of the African continent in Rabat, Morocco, before traveling to reigning African champions South Africa, Lusaka, Zambia, and Abuja, Nigeria.
Moroccan captain Ghizlane Chebbak and midfielder Fatima Tagnaout were among those on hand to welcome the trophy to North Africa as excitement for the tournament grew.
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The trophy then made a stop in the famous Johannesburg township of Soweto, where Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis and captain Andile Dlamini were present.
Banyana will compete in their second consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup, with former national team captain Ellis becoming the first African coach to lead her country to two editions of the global showpiece.
Jessica Motaung, a member of the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) Organising Committee for Women Football’s Standing Committee, joined the trophy tour at the Shapa Soweto Centre and said seeing the trophy for the first time was hugely inspiring for the 500 girls who took part in a coaching clinic that coincided with the trophy tour.
“It is exciting, significant and very important to see the FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy on the African continent.
“It is important for the young girls who are here to see the trophy up close and in their faces, so that it can serve to inspire them to represent their national team and to dream of also competing for the right to win this trophy one day,” said Motaung.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup will feature 32 countries for the first time, and Motaung expressed her delight at the participation of CAF’s four representatives.
“We are looking forward to our four African teams representing us with distinction in Australia and New Zealand.
“As a member of CAF’s Women’s Football Committee I am extremely proud to see the hard that has been done by all four teams in preparing for the tournament.
“The big investment in women’s football in Morocco has been simply sensational and it has also been fantastic to see the growth of Zambian football in both the men’s and women’s game.
“The Copper Queens are fully deserving of their FIFA Women’s World Cup debut appearance this year,” said Motaung.
“It is the second time in a row Banyana Banyana are participating in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and it’s even more special in that former national team player and captain, Desiree Ellis, will be the first African woman to coach her national team at two World Cups.
“As for the Super Falcons of Nigeria, they have paved the way for women’s football on the African continent and incredibly will be going to their ninth successive FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“Nigeria has produced great players who have shone on the world stage and represented African football with great pride and quality over the years,” Motaung added.
Banyana coach Ellis said she was “very excited” to be guiding her country to the World Cup again.
“We know what is at stake, we know what we need to do.
“We will work on first getting out of the group stage and after that anything can happen in the knockout stages.
“We have put in the work and believe we can give a good account of ourselves at the World Cup,” said Ellis.
Banyana goalkeeper and captain, Dlamini, said it was “incredible” to see the FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy in South Africa.
“As an individual and to youngsters seeing the trophy it is motivation to say you have to work extremely hard to represent your country.
“It is a beautiful trophy and its purpose is to promote women’s football, so I would like to thank FIFA for bringing it to the African continent,” said Dlamini.
Saskia Webber, the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup winner from the United States, represented FIFA on the trophy tour on her first trip to the African continent.
“There’s nothing like it and no better feeling than touching the FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy.
“There is no reason that trophy can’t keep coming back here to the African continent and for an African nation to win the tournament.
“The sky is the limit and seeing the trophy should give African football fans even more reason to cheer for their countries and to dream that one day their country too could become world champions,” said former US national team goalkeeper Webber.