By FOCUS REPORTER
THE first ever FIFA/CAF Conference on the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011 held in South Africa has come to an end.
The conference started on Friday. The aim of the gathering was to review the Women’s World Cup in Germany and also to look at challenges facing Women’s Football in Africa.
On the last day, Fran Hilton-Smith, Assistant Technical Director at the South African Football Association (SAFA), and also a FIFA and CAF Instructor, delivered a case study.
“For me this was a very successful event in that I believe we all walk away having looked deep into problems facing women’s football in Africa. We had presentations from other nations who have been at the World Cup advising us of what is required to prepare a team and compete at the highest level. We learnt from Japan and England how to plan better for the Olympic Games. There was a big emphasis on scientific development of teams, as well as tactical/technical know-how of players,” said Hilton-Smith.
She adds that some of the challenges facing women’s football can be overcome.
“We have all heard of what opportunities FIFA/CAF can offer Member Associations like coaching, but it’s just that not enough attention is paid to women’s football. For the game to grow more and get recognition on the continent we need to play regularly so each country must have a league and also compete in international tournaments as often as possible. We need to also get sponsors on board,” added Hilton-Smith.
Her words were echoed by Jacqueline Shipanga, FIFA Women’s Football Instructor who made a presentation at the conference.
Shipanga also reviewed the participation of African teams at the Women’s World Cup in Germany. One of the main concerns was the fitness level of African players at the event and provided the following results to illustrate her point:
African Teams results of Germany 2011.
France v Nigeria 1-0 (0-0)
Germany. v Nigeria 1-0 (0-0)
Canada. v Nigeria. 0-1 (0-0)
Norway. v Equatorial Guinea. 1-0. (0-0)
Australia. v Equatorial Guinea. 3-2. (1-1)
Brazil. v Equatorial Guinea. 3-0. (0-0)
“The above simply illustrates that African teams fared well in the first half of the match, but fade away in the second half. In my view this has to do more with fitness as well as tactical and technical aspects of the game, and we need to rectify that,” said Shipanga.
She was quick to say though that it was not all doom and gloom.
“We had some key success though, and one of those is that there has been a reduced gap between the top and the less-developed nations; individual qualities of African players has improved a lot; there is now a high number of African Women players playing abroad and also there is a better level of team work among African players in the same team,” added Shipanga.
The conference came to an end in the afternoon. It is the first of its kind to be organised by FIFA where all the African countries have been invited.
“This evening marks another historic day for the South African Football Association, it is the end of an informative, educative and building conference. I would like to thank each and every one of you for your contribution and participation in this conference. And I hope each one of us sitting in this room, we have learnt a lot and imparted knowledge to the next person. However the journey begins now for all of us – we now have a responsibility of going back to our respective countries and Member Associations to implement the resolutions to ensure that we improve the status of women’s football on the continent. It is important that we start collaborating and partnering as MA’s to improve ourselves to ensure that in the next decade an African team wins one of the WORLD Championships,” said Nomsa Mahlangu SAFA NEC Member and Chairperson Women’s Football at SAFA.
“We opened this conference with zeal and enthusiasm and I see we close it in the same way. I am also happy that the approach here has not been top down, but bottom up which means the real people on the ground are involved in the planning of the development of woman’s football. To all of you thanks for being here to contribute to the success of this game. I see 44 countries were represented here out of 53. Among those not present are Cameroon, who will represent Africa at the Olympics next year, as well as Equatorial Guinea, who were at the World Cup in Germany. They should have been here to gather some information to use in future as they fly Africa’s flag,” concluded Dr Molefi Oliphant, Chairperson of the CAF Women’s Football Committee, who was here as the representative of the CAF President.