With all the female potential talent at hand in the country, it is frustrating to see the women national team not being given the same attention needed just like their male counterparts.
Why this attention? It is frustrating to see the national women football team head for the CECAFA Women Championships without adequate preparations in form of international warm-up games just like it’s done for the men’s team.
And as a result, the She-Amavubi were sent packing after a poor performances in the two matches they played against Tanzania and Ethiopia, losing both by an identical 2-3 score line.
We all concede the obvious fact that elite female athletes are simply not equal to their male counterpart in terms of physically, ability which is kind of an important thing for an athlete.
A friendly match against one or two against CECAFA opponents would have been essential since the She-Amavubi squad generally had less time together in which to prepare, especially on the basis that the team had not played in any competition for close to two years.
With one or two warm-up matches, perhaps, head coach Grace Nyinawumuntu would be able to experiment with her team selection and tactics before the tournament proper; ideally she would assess the ability of the selected players before throwing them in the Lion’s cage.
A proper training schedule is an opportunity the women’s team is entitled to just like their male counterparts if they were really expected to produce the same positive results.
For instance before the Mozambique in the AFCON qualifiers, Amavubi were given a chance to weigh their confidence against Senegal as such, a warm-up match that put them into good shape despite losing 2-0.
Realistically, failure by those concerned has created a sorry state of women’s game. This is visible when it comes to equal marketing, pay or TV coverage, you name it.
Will women and men get equal opportunities particularly in sports? Indeed, that is still a gradual process before we get to see the true gender equality.
Perhaps the biggest worry is the big leap of confidence in those who head the department of women football, which is controlled by FERWAFA.
Full credit to Felicite Rwemarika, who heads women football in Rwanda, for the hard work and effort she has put in to try to develop women’s football among other things.
The department of women football receives an annual grant of $100,000 from FIFA and some money from the national league sponsors, Azam, but this is just a drop in the ocean of what is required to even get Rwandan women football into the second gear in terms of growth rate.
In June 2014, it was decided that the women football activities should be suspended until this year to allow the leadership to re-organize structures, according to FERWAFA. Nonetheless, it appears as the status core remains the same.
Rwanda has lot of talent in schools; it is a matter of scouting this talent and nurturing it. Academies can do more to empower women sport in partnership with corporate companies.
Annual inter-schools competitions, right from primary to university level and exclusively for girls, should be one of the avenues that can be tried in a bid to transform women sport in Rwanda.