Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Case for Uganda Women's Football

The return of women's international football in Uganda was a joyous occasion last Saturday (the 1-1 draw notwithstanding).Fans turned out in good numbers and there was a sense that if the women had more exposure, they could have done better. It all started in late 2009, when the under-20 girls' team put up an exciting show as they dispatched off Rwanda 2-1 at Nakivubo and 1-0 in Kigali. In both ties, the Ugandans showed a never-say-die attitude, always posting last minute winners. But Fufa kicked them in the guts when it withdrew them from the under-20 women's World Cup qualifiers, where they were due to face Zambia at the next stage.

The girls had savoured a moment when they would play in the 2010 under-20 World Cup in Germany. No wonder when the news broke that they wouldn't be playing in the qualifiers because Fufa didn't have money, they cried. Habiba Namalwa, a star player, was inconsolable. She told The Observer then: "We worked hard in training, all expectant and this is the way we get paid back? It's terrible."

So, the continued lack of women's football at a high level led to an exodus of players to DR Congo and Rwanda. But when Fufa president Lawrence Mulindwa returned from the women's football World Cup last year, he was enthusiastic about the game. He told the press that the success of women's football could bring the nation international recognition.

His deputy in charge of administration, Moses Magogo, went a step further, saying they would ensure that the women's game gets more international exposure. But nothing ever happened, that's until last Saturday's game and the lack of exposure clearly showed.

"Of course I can't blame the team now because they've not played at this level for a long time," Majidah Nantanda, the team coach said.

And Florence Bagunywa Nkalubo, former Fufa vice president (women's football) believes if they had kept the pace, the "girls would be far in terms of quality."

In his defence, Magogo says there are women's leagues in Bushenyi and in some parts of Northern Uganda but the bottom-line is that Fufa cannot sustain the women's teams financially.

"We don't have that kind of money," Magogo said.

But critics say the so-called leagues are simply football galas, which don't offer the girls any form of competition. In addition, Fufa hasn't remitted the money from Fifa intended for women's football annually. This money would provide some facilities like balls and fund the operational costs.

As they played 4-4-1-1: Fatuma Matovu (gk); Stella Nasuuna, Shamim Nantege, Gladys Nakitto and Christine Wanyana (Captain); Sylvia Nagawa, Rita Nakirijja, Christine Nambirige, Rita Kivumbi (Winnie Babirye 63mins), Dorothy Nakato (Naume Nagadya 79 mins) and Fatuma Luwedde (Sandra Nabweteme 84mins) Unused substitutes: Zaina Namukasa, Joyce Mwebaza, and Charlotte Binsima.

By John Vianney Nsimbe

No comments:

Post a Comment