More than 40 women football players from Morocco, Libya and Tunisia took part in a recent training clinic designed to give them the skills needed to become coaches.
The April 24th-27th event in Salé was organised by the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), the Filles Al Amal Assalaoui Association and the US Embassy in Rabat.
It brought in United States women's national team Assistant Coach Lesle Gallimore, midfielder Angela Hucles and defender Marian Dalmy to lead clinics on technical football skills and the psychology of coaching.
The "Sports Envoy Programme" seeks to train coaches so that they can pass on their knowledge and love for the game to younger generations, thus empowering them as they come together in friendly competition.
"The exchange of international experience in the field of football helps to enrich the local talent," said Moroccan national team technical director Jean-Pierre Morlans. "The most important thing remains that these young women can pass what they learned here on to other young women."
Bahia El Yahyaoui, the head of the Filles Al Amal Assalaoui organisation, said that the clinic would help "female football players find job opportunities as coaches, assistant coaches or officials in the field of sports".
"This training is a positive thing and motivates female football players," agreed former Moroccan national team star Aziz Bouderbala.
"Our goal is to help and inspire young women by empowering them to be who they want," explained US ambassador to Morocco Samuel Kaplan. He said that the partnership "exceeded" his expectations. He also acknowledged that the values learned at the event extended well beyond the realm of sports.
US coach Lesle Gallimore was also pleased with the outcome of the training.
"We were surprised by the capabilities of the young participants," Gallimore told Magharebia. "The course was productive, at a time when these young women understand their field of activity well and have the will to acquire an advanced level of mental and physical capacity," she said.
"I think they will be successful in the future," Gallimore added.
Fadoua Chernan, one of the trainees, said that the clinic was the perfect atmosphere to learn coaching. She expressed gratitude for all the support from the partner organisations and for her family who supported her decision to "play on a field that was mostly reserved for men".
Meanwhile, Libyan player Racha Nouri said that she was ready to get started.
After learning so much at the clinic, she said she was more prepared for the "transition from a current football player to a future coach after retiring". She added she learned some good strategies on "how to deal with the kids" as a coach.
"I think the level of women's football in the Maghreb is good," she said, "but we want to lift that up to a global level."
In order to do that, she explained that "you must change the mind-sets that make football a field only for men".
By Naoufel Cherkaoui