On Saturday, Botswana’s senior women national team debuted in the finals of the COSAFA women’s championships, losing 1 – 2 to South Africa’s Banyana Banyana.
As the ladies wrote their own footballing history, many were left wondering as to how far the local girls could go.
Enroute to the finals, Botswana had defeated Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia in that order.
While their display was not aesthetically pleasing to the eye most of the time, probably due to having not kicked ball in more than eight months, it was however a display of grit and determination.
Despite lack of adequate financial support over the years, their gallop to the finals came as no major surprise.
In the past year, a women senior team made mostly of players under the age of 20 made the semifinals of the COSAFA women’s championships and finished fourth.
Almost two months later, the women senior national dumped the much fancied Banyana out of the 2020/1 Tokyo Olympic qualifiers before they themselves were knocked out by Zambia.
All this was achieved despite the team being referred to as a developmental team by the Botswana Football Association (BFA). But what makes these women achieve so much even without many resources?
According to Mexican FC founder, Oaitse Moeti, the only thing that separates the ladies from their male counterparts is commitment.
Because of this, he says the local ladies are more likely to reach major events like the FIFA Women World Cup before men.
“The Mares competition pedigree has improved tremendously over the years. Their commitment to football is amazing as compared to their male counterparts who are offered everything on a silver platter,” he says.
Moeti says over the years, women teams have been playing without being given any assistance but always give their best when called upon despite not being recognized.
He went on to add that their passion and discipline while playing for nothing, shows that if they can have sponsors and extra assistance for game preparations, they can perform far much better than we have seen by far.
“It hurts to see how great these women teams are doing but still have not sponsor or any extra financial assistance to uplift them,” he says.
“Our men national teams have resources and everything at the tip of their fingers but unlike women they do not have commitment. They fail at every tournament. With every failure they keep receiving more resources and new coaches but still fail because they lack commitment, passion and have no discipline,” Moeti opines.
He says despite the tremendous performances by Goletlhoo Nkutwisang’s charges in the past year, it is disheartening they were not given much attention.
As for this year, Moeti went on to say, people did not give much attention to their group games until they went to the semi-finals than later the finals.
The Mexican Girls coach expressed gratitude at the P250 000 offered by the Minister of Sports Tumiso Rakgare to be shared among the team, saying it was a much-needed morale booster.
He however says it is time the powers that be stepped up to help the ladies grow. Moeti says this is the perfect time to invest in women football if the country is to reap good rewards in future as the team is still young.
The same sentiments were echoed by local football analyst Kagiso Kgaogano who says there is a need to invest in women football.
“Football will forever favour men due to the belief of many who think women cannot perform better. There are however good pointers that our women are diamonds and should be treated as such,” he says.
“They will never take men’s place and I am sure that is not their plan. But it is high time we wake up and help these ladies with everything,” says Kgaogano.
He went on to add that people should get rid of their conceited ideas that local women can do better than their men counterparts because their journey in football is easy.
“No! Nothing is easy for these girls. They fight to win and I wish our men can have the same mentality as these ladies ‘re emise go mpampetsa banna ba,” he says.
Kgaogano pleaded with the nation to show women football players some respect, saying they have earned it and need their support all way.