Unchain and celebrate women’s football

22 February 2021 | Sports

LIMBA MUPETAMI

Football fans love to see an underdog triumph. But there is no bigger underdog story than the women’s game’s fight for survival.

The women’s game has suffered so many setbacks during the years. First it was a thing of women not being able to play the “boys’ game”.

Then, when women could eventually play the game, there was l little to funding for their game. And then another setback came with the halt Covid-19 brought.

It’s been like this all over Africa as well as Europe - some areas better than others.

That’s why you find African footballers faring better in Europe than they do on their own continent. Now, not everyone can play in Europe.

Africa too, is a platform that needs to be polished when it comes to the women’s game.

At the moment tournaments and leagues have been halted all over the world, slowly making a comeback as regulations and rules are being relaxed. But this will not springboard the advancement of the women’s game at the level and pace it should be at the moment.

Now, I cannot speak for other countries when it comes to the frustration felt with organising leagues and trying to get money to organise cup competitions, but I can speak for Namibia.

Over the years this country has produced great athletes. Look at Frank Fredericks and Collin Benjamin. These gentlemen are being celebrated. But we forget that this country has also produced great women footballers despite all the odds.

These footballers, who have never made it out of the country to show their talent, have contributed immensely to Namibian football.

These footballers include Stella Williams, Leandri Lucas and Queen Manga, to name but a few of so many others who should have been seen and celebrated.

The talent of Williams alone granted her a place in the women’s national team at the age of 14. Williams is now 40 years of age and still continues to play the game we all love.

Now, if that isn’t proof that women can be dynamite when granted the opportunity, then I don’t know.

I have written extensively on how women are always left to pick up the football crumbs and I will continue to do so until the president himself gives money from his pocket to sponsor the women’s game. After all, he is a football lover.

This is a sensitive topic for me because I cannot continue to watch matches and see how girls walk home without any prospect of making it to a bigger stage next year.

A few years ago, I played club football. At some point I stopped to focus on other aspects of my life and to pursue a career other than football. Life granted me that opportunity, but there are so many women out there who play and played football who don’t have the opportunity to do anything else apart from football.

That is why we need to give them opportunities on and off the field.

This is where the women-centric brands come in. Where are you?

Why doesn’t the government think about giving tax rebates to companies that sponsor women’s sport? I’m thinking out loud here.

With that said, not everyone can be a scholar. There are those who are gifted in other areas and should not feel guilty for pursuing those areas.

Point is that we need to really unchain women’s football. We need to plough into the Women League. With this I really need to applaud the NFA Women’s Department for hosting the Women’s Super Cup.

At a time when many girls are lost, these few have received renewed energy – something to look forward to at the weekend. This is being done with little to no funds. Back in the day, all you needed was a ball and a couple of stones as makeshift goalposts. Today, it takes more than that - it requires investment and there should be incentives.

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