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Coronavirus chaos could offer women football a silver lining

Friday March 27 2020

Topister Situma (right) of Vihiga Queens FC dribbles past Lydia Akoth of Thika Queens FC during their Football Kenya  Federation (FKF) Women Premier League match at Mumias Sports Complex on October 21, 2018. PHOTO | TITUS MAERO |

Topister Situma (right) of Vihiga Queens FC dribbles past Lydia Akoth of Thika Queens FC during their Football Kenya  Federation (FKF) Women Premier League match at Mumias Sports Complex on October 21, 2018. PHOTO | TITUS MAERO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

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In recent weeks, the world of sport has been brought to a standstill due to coronavirus pandemic.

Staying indoors and unable to take part in daily routines has turned out to be an uphill task given that majority of the Kenyan population depends on daily income with little or no savings to survive.

The situation is worse for the Kenyan women football fraternity where players do not have salaries but rather rely on match day allowances and bonuses that are currently unavailable as the league, just like everywhere else in the world, has been halted to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

However, the halting of the women's league over the coronavirus may not be all bad news for stakeholders. It has given them time to go back to the drawing board and reflect, re-think, re-strategise and set objectives that will act as catalysts that will perpetuate solutions to the numerous problems that have been ailing the game.

This break should also remind us that women footballers are equal beings who should be treated with respect, regardless of the gender stereotypes that over the years, have branded them as less attractive to funding and endorsements for their inability to match their male counterparts in terms of pulling crowds.

This has been escalated with the disparity when it comes to remuneration both at club and national teams level. Covid-19 has shown all of us are equal irrespective of our cultural beliefs, financial status or even gender roles.


However, women footballers also have a role to play. I'm not saying that this will be achieved overnight, but the teams and players must build proper brands to attract funding and visibility within the football industry. The ultimate goal of a carefully managed branding and communication strategy is growth of value. As we pray for the world for a quick end to this tragedy, the lessons we gather should serve as a reminder that we can re-build the game together.


Kefwa’s wrangles

A stormy debate recently erupted on the role of the Kenya Footballer’s Welfare Association (Kefwa) in fighting for the players’ rights. A number of issues starting from election of a new office that have not been held by the organisation as they await to comply with the Sports Act. Leadership wrangles with some officials claiming that they have been sidelined and adopting of a new constitution are some of the major issues took that centre-stage.

Interestingly, very few people mentioned the milestones Kefwa have made starting from the activities they have carried out during the period, which have propelled the organisation from being Fifpro observers to full members.

Is Kefwa doing enough for women football? The players' union is working on various initiatives such as the Women Premier League (WPL) monthly awards, Menstrual Health Hygiene (MHM) education as well as the distribution of sanitary towels in partnership with the Johanna Omolo Foundation to the women football clubs, both in the WPL and the Division One leagues.

Notably, Kefwa also entered into a partnership with Zetech University and Mount Kenya Hub in order to ensure that players are offered scholarships to further their education, as well as accelerate their businesses through economic empowerment and livelihood sessions just to mention a few.

Kefwa, just like every other public organisation out there, has its faults. But the strides made by the association in the last few years have been commendable. The stakeholders should appreciate and look out for each other and come up with solutions for the betterment of the game.


Fifa’s Disciplinary Committee directives

Football Kenya Federation (FKF) were earlier this week instructed to pay former Harambee Stars coach Adel Amrouche Sh109 million, in compensation for wrongful dismissal within 30 days or risk facing disciplinary measures from world football governing body, Fifa. FKF have further been fined an extra Sh4 million to cater for costs sustained during the arbitration process.

Bearing in mind the progress the country has made at international level, avoiding Fifa sanctions should top the federation’s priorities at the moment.

A ban from Fifa-organised competitions would be retrogressive. Amrouche's case should also serve as a lesson that dialogue without necessarily having to settle matters along the corridors of power, can save us time, money and energy.