Int'l Football Sports World

Feature: Will Amsterdam conference profit women’s coaches in Africa?

By Samuel Ahmadu
Ahead of November 6 conference for Uefa women’s national teams’ coaches in the Netherlands, will the attendance of an Caf representative help Africa?

With a lot still expected from Caf in Africa, Uefa has remained a phenomenon and an example to other ‘lazy’ confederations due to it immense levels of professionalism in football administration.

On November 6, women’s national teams’ coaches in Europe will be converging for their third Uefa conference in Amsterdam. This will be happening only three months after the Uefa Women’s Championship ended with hosts Netherlands defeating Denmark 4-2 to claim their maiden title.

The coaching conference taking place at Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol will attract senior technicals responsible for elite women’s football and Uefa technical observers plus women national team coaches, including Euro 2017 title winning Sarina Wiegman.

With Africa hoping to improve upon their technical development base in the women’s game, South Africa’s Fran Hilton-Smith got the invite and will be the only African delegate at the Conference.

Just like Uefa, Caf and other confederations receive $500,000 financial fund for women’s football development annually but had consistently offered little for the women’s game.

Amongst myriads of issues confronting the women’s game on the continent, Hilton-Smith believes her attendance will be a huge bargain, vowing to bring useful ideas for Africa’s women coaches.

“The Uefa conference is vitally important because it allows me to get updated information to bring back to coaches in our country and across Africa. It is an opportunity to be at the cutting edge of the women’s game and an experience that‚ sadly‚ most coaches will never get,” she enthused.

Given her position as the only woman in the 17-member Caf technical and development committee, the Caf instructor promises to push for reforms in the women’s game in Africa.

“I would like to see them develop a Champions League-style competition for women’s clubs so that the winners in each block‚, for example, Southern Africa‚ North Africa‚ East Africa and so on‚ play to determine a winner.

“I would also like to see the African Women’s Championship played every year‚ while for me it is also important that we do away with home and away qualifiers for Under-17 and Under-20 women’s World Cup as all that happens is that teams withdraw.

“It is so expensive to travel for a qualifier that teams opt out of and then the players miss out on the opportunity of competing. I would like to see a finals tournament like the senior women have.”

Rwandan journalist, Clarisse Uwimana thinks the Conference will help Africa tap some good technical knowledge from Europe. “Yes, it will help Women’s football in Africa, especially in national teams. When we look at Europe they’re at a good level. So they will exchange ideas that could help Africa in many ways,” she told Goal.

“Africa will learn how European teams motivate their players in national teams like men teams. Coaches must push for Caf to expand competitions in our national teams. If it is only at Awcon, the tournament alone cannot show the quality of our coaches.”

While, Malawian striker Tabitha Chawinga, who scooped the 2017 Cosafa Women’s Cup silver boot, believes African teams’ coaches including her side can only get better with more games.

“Of course, there are some areas that need to be worked on, and the coaches need a lot of game to get better,” Chawinga told Goal.

“My plea to the authorities is that we can only improve by playing regularly, and I hope the team will be kept busy by taking part in more tournaments and organising international friendly games for us.

From an African point of view, however, 80 percent of the African women national teams have been characterized by inactivity at all levels, except notable few like South Africa.

In August, Nigeria women’s duo of Asisat Oshoala and Desire Oparanozie took to social media to bemoan their lack of games since beating Cameroon in the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations final last December, and unfortunately, nothing had changed till date.

Over 8 months without regrouping
What Is Our Vision ?
We need an explanation
🇳🇬@thenff @ColinUdoh @ruthdavid90

— ASISAT M.O.N (@AsisatOshoala) August 29, 2017

For Oparanozie, who added her voice via her Instagram page, said: “Over 8 months indeed. Since after Nations cup no form of regrouping whatsoever.

“Which way Nigeria Football Federation? Other African nations have caught up with us, we’re still a shadow of ourselves on the world stage….yet it doesn’t bother the people leading us.

“Let’s build for the younger generation. We need international/quality friendlies #WeSpeakInOneVoice #ThisIsNoLongerAcceptable #EqualTreatment #NFF #CAF #FIFA.”

Besides the Cosafa Women’s Cup in September and walk-over plighted U17s and U20s Women’s World Cup qualifiers, no other competition has held for women in 2017.

The ‘lack of games’ situation has become a major concern with the continued struggle of national women coaches in Africa to make an enduring impact at international showpiece.

No doubt, the lack of finances and interest over the decades had long stood as stumbling blocks to African women’s game. Nonetheless, the peculiarity and rigorous task faced by women’s football trainers, Caf will need to adopt the same summit to improve coaching education and getting requisite pieces of training lacking among handlers of women’s national teams.

Hilton-Smith at the Uefa coaching summit sound good for the continent with the 2018 Awcon qualifier and the Caf women’s symposium in Morocco happening in few coming months.