What you need to know:
- The spectacle of girls sleeping hungry in dingy hotels on the eve of games and going without water during matches has been fuel for moral panic. How about first solving this pressing problem?
We are living at a time where dishonesty is a major feature of life on this planet. We fake just about everything. Fake lives on Instagram and Facebook, fake personalities at our workplaces, fake laughs when out on a date with someone new…the list is long and winding.
Faced with that reality, humanity has a choice between keeping up the charade, or pulling up the drawbridge. And judging by the contents of the “Women’s Football Strategy” that was launched on Wednesday, it is clear that Football Kenya Federation is opting for the former. Where local football is concerned, the jokes just never stop.
The document, a 14-pager that outlines the federation’s roadmap to success, borrows so heavily from a Fifa document under the same title that one wonders, what was there to be launched? Even the five pillars on which the strategy is anchored – Grassroots and Youth Football, Leagues and Competitions, National teams and Centres of Excellence, Capacity Building, and Marketing & Branding – are the very same ones featuring in Fifa’s 2018 strategy.
At the launch, FKF boss Nick Mwendwa said that the goal is to see Harambee Starlets qualify for the 2023 World Cup and 2022 Africa Women's Cup of Nations (Awcon). “We are four matches away from participating in the World Cup and two games to qualify for Awcon,” he said.
It is easy to point out the hollowness of this claim, because there is a familiar ring to it. Mwendwa is banking on the forgetful nature of Kenyans, believing that we have forgotten how he used the same words about Harambee Stars qualifying for the World Cup in 2022.
Even if we go past that, we are not any number of games away from qualifying for anything. Heck, we are solid preparations away from doing so!
Coming right after the crescendo of complaints and the embarrassment that followed the end of the women’s premier league whose winners went home with a paltry Sh350,000, and to escape questions raised about the monies awarded to FKF by Fifa for women’s development, Wednesday’s launch is a sorry attempt at obfuscating the fact that women’s football in this country remains on life support.
Because it looks colourful on account of the federation’s bright red and white official colours, the document may appear well put together, but only to those who are unfamiliar with the Kenyan football landscape. It is meant to look attractive and deflect attention, not solve the real problems.
The federation aims to have 50,000 talented girls get actively involved in football by 2027, up from the current 2,800, yet it says nothing about lessening the existing burdens on players.
The spectacle of girls sleeping hungry in dingy hotels on the eve of games and going without water during matches has been fuel for moral panic. How about first solving this pressing problem?
If the federation was serious about ending the misery of female players, they would concentrate on finding local solutions, and creating harmony within women’s football landscape in the meantime, rather than chasing the fantasy that a 14-page copy paste document will automatically transform the game. As Hugo Brady puts it: “The heart will have its day, but the head will always quietly insist: ‘Yes, but what then?'"