What you need to know:
- She was named CEO last weekend.
- She is the first woman to hold the position the history of the country's top flight football.
- A section of the Simba SC fanbase was not happy with the appointment.
Amid all the barrage of coronavirus-led misery and chaos, I knew that eventually, 2020 would provide a glimmer of good news.
That moment arrived last Saturday with the announcement that Tanzanian champions Simba SC have named Barbara Gonzalez as Chief Executive Officer, making her the first female CEO in the country’s top flight league.
Immediately after the announcement, disgruntled voices sprung almost from nowhere, with many throwing mud at the 30-year-old retired gymnast, dismissing her as being “inexperienced.” So bad was the barrage of insults and ridicule that Simba’s Board Director Asha Baraka had to come to Barbara’s defense by saying: “Barbara is not the first woman to hold such a high post in football in the world.”
Which begs the question, when will women be accepted as capable leaders in football?
If Barbara, with her glittering resume, still faces rejection on grounds of “inexperience”, then when will women be experienced enough to take up leadership roles within football?
What quality of experience is this that women must have to be accepted as leaders in the industry? Does it come from above like wisdom, discernment and other gifts of the Holy Spirit? Is it only resident in members of the male gender?
By saying that Barbara wasn’t the first woman to hold a high profile position in football, Asha was obviously just defending her new employee. But what if she, indeed, was the first woman to hold such a position in the world? With her credentials, what exactly would be the problem in having her hold the highest position in football?
Barbara’s flowery resume indicates that she is a Spanish international who represented her country in the 2008 and 2004 Summer Olympics as a gymnast. She has worked for USAID, UN Habitat and a number of other UN bodies. She is an Arsenal fan and if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, she is a model. (There, something for the men to drool over.)
She has worked closely with Simba officials for four years, sitting in board meetings and offering suggestions that may have contributed to making Simba the Tanzanian giant it is today.
With these credentials in mind, who would be callous enough to oppose her appointment on grounds of inexperience, and to do so publicly? Only a small minded fool. That kind of hard-heartedness certainly reflects a deep-seated belief in smallness.
It is the typical kind of moral conservatism with which I profoundly disagree but can understand because I have seen it many times in my seven years in the sports world.
I saw it last month when former Gor Mahia treasurer Sally Bolo was heaved up like a dirty shoe and thrown outside the room while protesting against what she claimed were electoral malpractices.
I have witnessed it myself, through threats and harassment by people who believed that people of my gender should merely be passive observers, not opinionated commentators of the game. I have seen it many times.