KWPL: Women’s unified league returns to Kenya in November

Copyright: Football Kenya Federation (FKF)

The Kenyan Women’s Premier League (KWPL) has reverted back to the unified league format just one season after adopting a zonal system.

Six teams—three from each zone—were relegated last season, with Bunyore Starlets and Kangemi Ladies gaining promotion to the 12-team league. The major reason for the return to the unified format from the zonal system is funding.

KWPL does not have a sponsor to cover the costs of running a league. Additionally, the federation has had difficulties in maintaining the level of funding needed to support the league. The move back to a unified league has been taken with the hope to cut costs.

The 2021/22 KWPL season will start with a clash between champions Thika Queens and FKF (Football Kenya Federation) Cup holders Ulinzi Starlets. The tie at Utalii grounds on 7 November starts the inaugural campaign of the first-ever Super Cup competition. The Starlets edged the Queens in the FKF Cup final three weeks ago, 2-1 at Nakaru Showgrounds.

Then, on 13 November, FKF Women’s Premier League kicks off with Thika hosting Kayole Starlets at Thika Stadium. Meanwhile, Wadadia will welcome newbies Bunyore Starlets at the Mumias Sports Complex. Gaspo Women will be hunting for maximum points against Kisumu All Starlets at Moi Stadium Kisumu.

In addition to these ties, Reigning champions Vihiga Queens meet Nakuru Queens at the Mumias Sports Complex. Elsewhere, Trans-Nzoia Falcons prepare to take on Zetech Sparks, and Kangemi Ladies will play Ulinzi at Ruaraka.

Tournament play

The league regular season will continue through the final weekend of May. The FKF Women’s Cup Tournament will take place over five weeks of the season. First round will be the weekend of 5-6 February, with the second round taking place 5-6 March. Quarterfinals of the tournament will happen 2-3 April. The semi-finals will take place 30 April-1 May; and the tournament final will be contested on 4 June.

The league season will also be affected by the Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) tournament. The first round of the tournament saw Kenya decimate South Sudan by an aggregate of 15-1. The Harambee Starlets will face Uganda in the second round, taking place 14-23 February. The Crested Cranes squeaked by Ethiopia in the first round. The two sides each won their home fixture by a 2-0 score. The teams went to a penalty shoot-out, which Uganda won 2-1.

Should the Starlets get past Uganda, they will qualify for the AWCON Finals tournament. In addition to host Morocco, 11 other countries will compete from 2-23 July. This tournament is part of 2023 World Cup Qualification.

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