Under the African sky and with temperatures around 30 degrees, AFP and FIFA welcomed women’s football journalists from all over the continent to Dakar for the first half of a two-part training programme. The objective of the initiative, which unfolded between 24 and 28 November, was to improve the participants’ reporting skills and enhance their standing within the media ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™, which will begin next June.
Five groups with a total of around 100 people received a largely theoretical training session, which will be followed by a hands-on practical one early in 2011, in either Dakar or Nairobi, all of it being held in three languages. The participants were all women and members of the African Women Sports Reporters Union (AWSRU), representing a total of 23 countries.
In the conference room in Dakar, the instructors - sports journalists working for the international news agency AFP, and seconded to the non-profit-making AFP Foundation – presented the programme’s schedule in co-operation with FIFA, aiming to build on the ‘Win in Africa with Africa’ initiative, which was launched before the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. At that time already almost 250 African reporters and photographers were trained by the AFP Foundation in conjunction with FIFA.
““FIFA is very happy to continue the co-operation with the AFP Foundation to train African sports journalists,” said FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter. “With projects like this, the ‘Win in Africa with Africa’ programme is made even more sustainable. With a view towards the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany in 2011 – the flagship competition in the women’s game – the actual seminars are dedicated to women’s football, which is why exclusively female sports journalists have been invited.”
The participants in the Senegalese capital were asked to introduce themselves and talk about their experiences, expectations and wishes. Some girls just wanted to “hear a little bit about football”, while others had clearer ambitions: “To become the first female reporter in my media, then a sports analyst, and eventually the best female sports journalist in the world.”
A Togolese girl outlined her struggle to popularise women’s football: “I am the only woman in my editorial office, and neither I nor women’s football are taken seriously enough. With this course I hope to get more experience and more knowledge to show what a great thing women’s football is. It’s my responsibility as a journalist to make it more popular. It starts with us.”
The second day of the course was dedicated to the history and organisation of football, as well as to its rules and tactics. When the instructors talked about the sport’s history, the participants listened intently, from time to time nodding confirmatively when a famous player was mentioned. Afterwards, when tactics were discussed, it became clear that there were some real experts among the participants, while in the afternoon there was engaging debate about the current and the future situation of women’s football. The following day the journalists watched a football game on video and wrote a report on it, receiving feedback from the instructors.
Ultimately, the programme proved extremely beneficial to the participants, who will now look forward to its second instalment.