Friday, June 21, 2024

Lack of development compensation for women footballers

Days before the closure of the transfer window, Botswana Football Association (BFA) transferred midfielder Segakolodi Didukanyane from Mexican Girls Football Club to Double Action Football Club.

The move was done without the express consent from Mexican Girls.  The 22-year-old Didukanyane had come to Mexican Girls as a 14-year-old. For eight years, the team had taken care of her. It had helped in her academics and football development.

Having seen her through secondary school education, the team went a step further and helped her attain tertiary education. Football wise, the diminutive midfielder is now one of the most recognized women footballers in the country. She has played for the junior national teams and is now a member of the women’s senior national team.

According to one insider at BFA, the decision to give the player to Double Action without any compensation was frustrating. The insider says as a coach and founder, Moeti had invested so much in the players in her team.

“There have been times when he (Moeti) has had running battles with the BFA to protect these girls. He made sure they prioritised academics to the point where he would refuse to release them for national duty if it clashed with crucial times in their academics. He even pays for some of these kids to excel academically,” the insider explains.

The insider says it is therefore painful to see Moeti not compensated for an eight-year development and investment in a player. “This is not fair. I feel for him. It is frustrating,” the insider says.

For those in the know, BFA and Double Action were acting within the legal framework when transferring the player. Unlike with men football, FIFA has repealed the requirement for compensation development when dealing with transfers of women.

“Training compensation shall be paid to a player’s training club(s): (1) when a player is registered for the first time as a professional, and (2) each time a professional is transferred until the end of the calendar year of his 23rd birthday …. The principles of training compensation shall not apply to women’s football,” article 20 of the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players states.

The rationale behind repealing the requirement for the development fees was explained by FIFA in circular 1603 of 2017. It stated that ‘the existing training compensation formula would act as a deterrent to the movement of female players and consequently stall the development of the women’s game.’  

While FIFA’s intentions may have been good, on after thought, they may be bad for the development of women football. Following the scramble for his players, Moeti has for some time now mulled quitting the game. The investment and the losses incurred are not worth the trouble.

“Right now, I want to stop spending on women football. I cannot continue to invest resources or even in the education of these young women when I cannot get any return on investment,” he says.

If he does go through with this line of thought and quits, it would be a loss for women football development in Botswana. Mexican Girls is one of the biggest developers of women football in the country. Players from the team can be seen in all the women national teams.

Its products like Didukanyane, Esalenna Galekhutle and Keitumetse ‘Benten’ Dithebe are in the women’s senior national team. The latter even scored Botswana’s first goal during its debut at the Women Africa Cup of Nations (WAfcon) last year in Morocco. In junior teams, they also have the likes of Neo Bulala and Jessica Modise. The latter is now catching the eye of various teams in the country who are clamouring for his signature.

Following the scramble for his players, Mexican Girls has once again looked into its development to fill the void. Players as young as 13 and 15 years old have been promoted to the senior team. This however is not enough to make for the heartbreak of losing the team’s best players. Moeti still feels hard done and harbours the feeling of walking away from it all. 

“I understand FIFA prohibits the payment of development fees. That is because FIFA pumps money into the development of women football. What they do not know however is that the money does not reach individual teams. We do not even know where that money goes to,” the Mexican Girls coach and founder explains.

While he hurts over losing players, his pain is angered and confused by BFA’s flagrant failure to protect development teams.

“Even if there are no compensation fees, I do not understand how they (BFA) signed and transferred my player to Double Action without my consent. The worst part is that I had written a letter of complaint to BFA as the team had been talking to our players without permission. That was a reason enough for BFA to send this matter to the status committee as there was a dispute,” he opines.

As of now, he says he still awaits the BFA to furnish him with formal details, minutes or resolution of the decision. In the meantime, he has to watch as a player he developed dons the colours of another team without his blessings or consent.

Meanwhile, attempts to get a comment from the BFA were futile as the chief executive officer was said to be in a meeting.

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