FIFA and the Tanzanian Football Federation (TFF) recently hosted the FIFA Women’s Football Com-Unity Seminar in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to help create opportunities for, and improve awareness of, women’s football across the country.
“We are here for the good of football, and the good of women’s football,” said Leodegar Tenga, TFF President, at the opening ceremony for the seminar, which was held between 25 and 28 October 2011. “This seminar will bring a new era for women’s football in Tanzania.”
Over 75 participants from the TFF, government agencies, non-government organisations (NGOs), women’s football clubs, media and sponsors attended the four-day seminar. The opening day was focused on grassroots football and the impact of women’s football on social and educational development programs. Representatives from the TFF declared that, going forward, they will define the philosophy and pathways for identification and development of Tanzania’s female players; increase the quality and quantity of coaches, referees, medical practitioners and administrators; and increase grassroots programming.
Challenges, however, include inadequate funds to properly run the sport and a lack of sports facilities in schools. Tanzanians are also constrained by gender bias and fuelled by continuing stereotypes of women’s physical abilities and social roles. However, attending government and NGO representatives stated their clear commitment to ensuring equal opportunities for girls and boys to participate in every area of sport, from playing and officiating to administration and leadership.
“If we are really going to reach an international level, the girls need to start playing early, and we need to have leagues and competition opportunities for them,” said Mayi Cruz Blanco Turner-Kerr, FIFA Women’s Football Development Manager.
The second day of the seminar highlighted the role of the media to create a positive image of the women’s game, and the role of the football association, clubs, coaches and players in promoting women’s football. By creating a section dedicated to women’s football on the federation’s official website, building effective relationships with the media to raise awareness of women’s football and developing a country wide publicity campaign, the TFF plans to change the current mindset about women’s football in Tanzania.
Support from the media was apparent, as ITV – one of Tanzania’s leading television stations – aired the final day’s festival live to a national audience. “We decided to use our power to create awareness to the public at large of the need to give a chance to our own national women’s football team, the Twiga Stars, and showcase their prowess in the game by sponsoring them," said Joyce Mhaville, Managing Director of ITV and Radio One. She continued: “The responsibility to develop women’s football in Tanzania lies in our hands as Tanzanians, and we have the obligation to shape a bright future for the game.”
The third day focused on the marketing and promotion of women’s football and addressed how it can be developed as a product, including opportunities, benefits and expectations from sponsors. Working groups were challenged to develop a pitch from the sponsor’s point of view, an interactive activity that garnered a healthy discussion.
“We need to take advantage of this euphoria. We can't let this go,” said Ashford Mamelodi, FIFA Development officer for Southeast Africa. He continued: “FIFA has never doubted the TFF's commitment to this process, and now we want to see it continue. A few years down the line, we will proudly look back to this week and say: ‘Yes, we did it!’ We will have the Twiga Stars where we all want them.”
The two instructors appointed by FIFA for this course were Amanda Vandervort from the USA and Namibia’s Jacqui Shipanga. They each presented case studies in the areas of both communications and marketing.
The TFF leadership met with FIFA representatives to discuss recommendations and next steps, and they agreed to submit an action plan within the next 30 days. A press conference concluded the event, where TFF Executive Committee members shared their commitment and vision for the development of women’s football in Tanzania.
”This has been a very special seminar – one of a kind,” said Tenga. “The presence of all these people adds to our commitment to developing women's football in this country. I want to congratulate you for three days of hard work. I was here and I witnessed the deliberations. I saw something that we've never seen before. That energy, that zeal, that comes from everybody focused on women's football, and everybody saying that we can do our part.”
The FIFA Women’s Football Com-Unity Seminar ended with a fun and energetic football festival for 75 girls from the U-14 age group at the TFF Technical Centre. The festival was broadcast live on national television.