What you need to know:
- For decades, football heads around the world have sought to reassure both the public and female footballers that work is in progress
- Relative to the US, the UK and Germany, African countries are known to lose so many footballers through the cracks as students leave secondary school
There is a red ball in the middle of the pitch at Our Lady of Fatima Girls School in Kariobangi where my niece goes to school.
My niece Becky told me that the red ball is always left for girls’ teams. I was in the neighbourhood last Friday, but at 4pm, I dutifully walked into the school and stood somewhere observing the girls’ team.
They had carved out an isolated space in one corner of the rather big pitch, doing kickabouts. I learnt later that the teenagers were preparing for this year’s Kenya Secondary School Sports Association Games. Becky says they have their sights trained on the regional title.
That information made my mind wander. I thought about schools like Wiyeta, Nyakach, Butere Girls and St Johns Kaloleni that are known powerhouses when it comes to girls’ football.
Where do these girls end up after helping their schools win regional or even national titles? What fraction of them actually get into the local football conduit?
We are yet to find out how many players in the Wiyeta Girls’ team that won the 2019 Copa Coca-Cola term two games made it to the national team. Chances are that majority of them disappeared into oblivion.
In fact, I have tried without success to locate the Wiyeta team captain, Diana Musiliri, whose bubbly countenance during the post-match interview that day has remained with me to date.
For decades, football heads around the world have sought to reassure both the public and female footballers that work is in progress.
That if they waited long enough, a practical breakthrough would arrive and transform the landscape. A little more patience and equality will be an issue no more.
At first sight the various tournaments reserved for women may seem a good idea. First, however, there’s the question of whether we really want to solve the problem, and second, is the problem what we say it is? Is it true that there is just no money to support women’s football development or is it a lack of commitment from our local leaders?
Is it choice between getting an education and pursuing football ambitions or is it a prolonged case of societal misconceptions relating to women and sport?
Relative to the US, the UK and Germany, African countries are known to lose so many footballers through the cracks as students leave secondary school. It is not random that African teams often perform poorly against their western counterparts.
Research shows that communities with histories of proper retention of budding footballers develop stricter procedures that ensure proper absorption rates of those young stars into national teams.