Women football will be the biggest loser from the ongoing suspension of sporting activities.
Prior to suspension of sporting activities, women football was on the rise despite challenges associated with neglect.
Zodiac Collabo Girls FC coach Lawrence Nare says suspension of activities will be drastic for women football as it has not been given the recognition, support and development it deserves.
“Sport keeps people busy and off the streets. The current suspension will, in particular, impact our women footballers badly as they now use most of their time in useless activities to pass time,” opines Nare.
“Furthermore, they do not keep fit. For women, little or no physical training leads to poor body structures. It will be difficult for most to reclaim fitness when football activities resume,” he says.
Nare says the impact is also financial as most women footballers have been surviving and supporting themselves and their families through sports.
He says there is a need for concerted effort from all stakeholders, including legislators and international sports bodies to assist women footballers with emotional and financial support.
“Some girls are not assertive and facing these financial challenges makes them vulnerable to be used in exchange for money for them to meet their needs and wants,” he says.
He says they are already losing players to pregnancies as they continue to be idle. “Sadly, we are already witnessing a rise in unplanned pregnancies.”
Big Sisters Football Team manager Keoagile Babusi echoed the same sentiments saying they expect to lose many footballers during this period.
“There is a very big threat for us in terms of pregnancy and loss of interest in sports for our ladies,” he says.
“When a girl child plays football week in and week out, you will have her until she reaches 30 years of age. But the moment she stops, there is trouble.”
Sad as the situation may be, he says it is also a learning curve for footballers to find something to fall back on ‘and to not only rely on football for a living.’
On what needs to be done, Babusi says; “the first thing is for all stakeholders, more especially Women’s fooball committee as well as the BFA to map up a way forward. For women’s football we also need a sponsor for the games.”
“I would like to see sponsors and more development e.g girl child and women football coaches being developed,” he opined.
For his part, Sikalekeke ladies’ team head coach Kago Seboko says ‘the state of women football in the country is going down.’
“Before suspension of sporting activities, women football in our country was taking a good shape but the long stop will take women football back to zero,” he says.
He also fears that due to the prolonged break, teams will lose players as ‘women are sensitive people and easily get frustrated and lose hope.’
Seboko says frustration may influence many women footballers to leave the sport more especially as women teams do not offer players contract.’
“Again women easily grow ‘body structure.’ The financial situation in women’s football teams prohibits them to have qualified physical trainers to deal with this situation,” Seboko explains.
He further noted that during these trying times they need all stakeholders to come on board especially the government.
“Botswana Football Association should engage the government to bring back football in a safe way,” he says.
As an alternative, he says it maybe high time the government shift the money it has been using for constituency tournaments to BFA to assist women teams to play football.
“In that way, the national team will be able to pick players which are in a good state of playing football,” he says.
“We are losing players in teams, players now are engaging in alcohol. Football has been keeping them busy but now that alcohol is there and football suspended, they tend to shift to alcohol to entertain themselves,” Seboko says.