Sixty years after its historic founding in Adis Ababa in Ethiopia, the Confederation of African Football, experienced historic and necessary leadership change when the oligarchical, long serving CAF President was defeated in an election, ushering in a new leadership era for African football.
Now that the necessary officialdom change has occurred, will CAF propel forward a powerful women’s football programme for the continent?
With the ending of Issa Hayatou’s 29 year reign over Afric
an football, it’s gratifying to see oligarchical power and control being challenged in African sport but now its time for gender discrimination, male hegemony and domination to be challenged and burnt out of African football.
African countries have talented girl footballers but they are not being supported to achieve and know their potential world class football prowess. Africa’s women’s football teams play too little continental and international fixtures, the domestic leagues are weak and women’s football is not given the respect it must have.
Speaking on social media before his election, CAF President Ahmad Ahmad told the women footballers to believe in his leadership of African football. ‘Ladies, I won’t let you down. Please have a look at this extract of my program about women’s fb (football)’, Ahmed said on twitter.
Ahmad Ahmad’s election manifesto went on to say:‘I will look for better ways to show them my support and I am determined to constantly find ways to improve it. The CAF as a whole will inevitably think of the right method to design more attractive , and more spectacular women’s football competitions. Most of all we want them to be anchored in the daily habits of our towns and villages’.
Women’s football in Africa is crying out for development, advancement and sincere recognition by CAF, Africa’s controlling body for football. In defense of furthering women’s footbvall in Africa, CAF has said its developing women’s football. However, CAF’s investment of resources and money into growing one of the most popular, most watched and fastest growing women’s sports in the world, is meagre and just too little. CAF shouldn’t dismiss challenges and protests when voices rage about CAF’s nominal and little support for women’s football in Africa.
Judging by his election manifesto comments, CAF President Ahmad Ahmad doesn’t reflect himself as one leader intent on challenging patriarchy, male hegemony and control within African football as a critically conscious sports leader should. Women’s football might be improved here and there but gender disparities might be supported and maintained.
Compared to what boys and men’s football achieves and receives from CAF and African football federations, girls and women’s football is not given the same favour and support as women in sport should receive.
Africa’s international women footballers have had enough and are speaking out against the women’s football discrimination, especially the late and no-show payments they receive for national duty.
Women’s football in Europe and North America is given much more support and recognition than the crumbs given out to African women’s football. Just how does CAF expect Africa’s women’s football teams to achieve internationally when so little is done to develop women’s football?
Yes, African women’s football does have structures in most African countries with structured leagues and national teams. Except for South Africa, most African teams don’t get much international play and go into international competition severely unprepared for the tough fixtures against countries such as USA, Germany, Australia, Canada, Norway, England.
Why are Africa’s women footballers expected to perform with impressive and credible results against fierce, strong international opponents when Africa’s women footballers haven’t been given much support by their national football federations? Africa’s women footballers are crying out for national professional leagues; leagues that will allow them to play the beautiful game they love as professionals and full-time players instead of playing as part-timers and getting part-time results.
CAF complies with international football when it hosts Olympic and world cup qualifiers and the long running African Women’s Championship. But that’s all. No other competitions are contested to advance women in football. Africa’s u17 and u20 women’s football suffers terribly from lack of continental and international development with just the world cup qualifiers held for these two age groups. Why no more additional tournaments to give the girl footballers more international game time?
CAF must introduce more continental competitions for girls and women’s football; competitions such as continental club and knockout champions events. These events must be introduced for under 17, under 20 and senior women’s football. CAF has got to instruct national federations to be sincere and honest and create spaces and opportunities for women coaches. Money and payment for coaches course fees must be waived for women football coaches. And women coaches must be appointed to coach national girls and women’s football teams.
How must Africa’s girl footballers compete with the rest of the world in World Cups and Olympic events when they don’t get much international experience and play? It’s a human right for Africa’s sports federations and continental sports structures to advance, support and grow all genders and sexualities in sport. Its inhumane and a violation of human rights to favour boys and men in sport and discriminate against girls and women in sport.