Don’t Underestimate Women’s Football

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By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek The FIFA Women’s Football Seminar for Southern and East Africa Region kicked off yesterday at a local hotel in the capital. The three-day seminar, which is being attended by thirteen African countries, was officially opened by the Minister of Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture, John Mutorwa, who said development in women’s football must be based on partnership. The President of the Namibia Football Association, John Muinjo, who was present at the official opening, said the development of women’s football is attracting a lot of attention not just from the football community, but also from the media, business and political arena. He said in many countries there are initiatives to get public support for the development of women’s football, namely: by requiring schools and universities to introduce women’s football as part of their sporting programmes. The President said in Namibia the government is doing a lot in the development of women’s sports in general, and football in particular. “The powerful football-playing countries of the world already have advanced women’s football development policies and even in African countries such as Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa, they are forging ahead with the development of women ‘s football”. Muinjo also acknowledged that, over the years, FIFA has encouraged the development of women’s football across the world, and indeed, has financed the organization of women’s football specific coaching at national association level across the world. “I am sure FIFA is now of the opinion that it is not enough to only train the women’s football practitioners and developers, but that an appropriate policy and environment should also back those involved with the advancement of the women’s game”. Muinjo said the potential and benefits of women’s football to the game at both national and international levels are undoubted. “That potential and benefits cannot be realized without the availability of the necessary skills in the continent and therefore, developing a local skills base is the strongest possible response we need to concentrate on”. The FIFA Development Officer for Southern Africa, Ashford Mamelodi, said FIFA has already made the statutory requirement to develop women’s football, and thus made it a rule that ten percent of the Football Federation’s budget should go to women’s football. Mamelodi said he did not want to venture into the debate whether associations are abiding by this rule, but not that the seminar should lay down a solid base for the way forward. The development officer acknowledged that it is fact that not enough is being done to advance women’s football and said there is a real need to look at women players, referees and managers in order for them to advance. “Women’s football is here to stay, and nobody can wish it away”. He called on the seminar to take a resolution to review the progress in women’s football after twelve months. Ayo Omidiran, a FIFA Committee member, said women need to stand up and be counted. “We need to be learning, but we need to prove what we want to learn”. Omidiran, who is from Nigeria, said her country believes it is very important that other African countries should have strong women football teams in order for her country to improve. She added that women’s football is not only a game, but can be an important social project to address many social problems. The seminar ends on Friday.