Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB) has been running an online campaign since the 31st May 2021 which ended on Friday 11th June 2021, to sensitize different stakeholders about the plight of women footballers in Botswana as well as lay a foundation for future generations.
According to FUB President Onalethata Tshekiso the campaign was triggered by a recent engagement with women representatives who touched on a number of challenges facing women football.
“It was after this meeting that we thought of creating a platform for national dialogue on matters that concern women football,” he explained.
Tshekiso added that “as part of preparations for the return of football, we wanted to create dialogue that would see women football overcome certain traditional barriers and further elevate the voices of the female players.”
“In football, female players do not get the same benefits as their male counterparts despite the fact that they are both doing national duty. Our thinking is that although women’s football has long been viewed as a cost to the industry, it is in fact an asset of great value to the sport and society. It is for this reason that we feel women football can steer the industry in a positive and sustainable direction,” added Tshekiso.
Furthermore, Tshekiso noted that they are encouraged by the support from both the male and female players. He said “it has created a talking point and the players have been making suggestions that the FUB board will soon be looking into. We have also got some feedback from members of the society who felt that a lot is yet to be done.”
“Others who made suggestions are parents of these players while some are true football supporters. Their comments continue to push us to do more in coming with ways in which we can better develop women football,” added Tshekiso.
Moreover, Tshekiso highlighted that the campaign targeted different football stakeholders from the media, supporters, sponsors and clubs to learn from the challenges and opportunities that FUB have seen develop across the football industry.
He said “We call on the football authorities to use this knowledge to help lay the foundation for a sustainable global employment market built on healthy and safe working environments.”
When asked on what they hope to achieve through the campaign, Tshekiso said “We always want to offer solutions to the game and encourage others to do the same in order to address our shortcomings. Through this initiative, we call on the leadership to identify solutions to measure the value of women’s football and develop a long-term roadmap for success. There is an urgent need to drive growth and opportunity through innovation and long-term investments.”
“The feedback has been incredibly positive and created a platform to engage, which was our primary objective. More and more inspiring stories about some interventions are now coming up and through that, we will be able to plan some interventions in order to develop women football,” added Tshekiso.
Furthermore, Tshekiso noted that “as a union, we are a first point of contact for the players and we take exception to anything that tends to affect them negatively. Through our internal mechanisms, we are able to handle such matters professionally to avoid victimisation while at the same time offering confidentiality.”
“We are yet to come across a negative report on the way such matters have been handled. We also express solidarity and collectivism on the part of players who are always representing their colleagues,” added Tshekiso.
Tshekiso further added that their collective membership has been actively taking part in the campaign by way of sharing the messages and promoting the same on platforms that were sharing the messages. He said “I wish to also add that the messages were developed from our interactions with the players and it was only fair that they lead from the front. Overall, we are happy with the intended objective and wish to thank our players for their role in matters that concern them.”
In conclusion, Tshekiso said global standards for the conditions of players are lacking, subjecting players to a range of adverse working conditions. He said “Just as we do for their male counterparts, female players must be given the opportunity to enter and stay in professional football as a viable career option.”
” This means ensuring stable employment markets that create possibilities for security and longevity in the industry as a player. The overall objective is to support these players to determine and take action on how best to nurture and sustain dignified and decent careers for female players within an equally just framework for the game overall,” he concluded.