The president of the Burundi Football Federation, Lydia Nsekera, has been honoured by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for promoting the cause of women in sport.

The IOC presented Women and Sport Awards to Nsekera and four other administrators at a ceremony at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland where Nsekera, and the other winners, were praised for making "tremendous contributions to strengthening the participation of women and girls in sport on an international level."

In 2004 Nsekera became only the second woman in Africa to head a football federation, after Liberia's Sombo Izetta Wesley, following a turbulent time for the country's footballing administration. Six years ago, FIFA suspended Financial Assistance Programme payments to Burundi as its footballing administration was unable to provide documentation to substantiate the use of part of the funds it had received.

There was no league for three seasons, resulting in the country's finest players leaving Burundi to take part in other leagues. However, the accession of Nsereka as President brought about radical change.

I agreed on condition that once I am elected they should be ready to accept changes.
Lydia Nsekera on her appointment.



"They [members of the executive] came to me, requesting me to run to be the federation's president," she said.

"At first I hesitated because the situation was too bad in the federation. But they insisted. Finally I agreed on condition that once I am elected they should be ready to accept changes.

"After taking over, I restored discipline in the FA, I overhauled the regulations and re-organised the league. Now there is financial discipline, we have three league divisions, I have carried out an audit to establish the number of players we have in and outside the country."

On the pitch, Burundi's national U-17 men's team won the regional Cecafa Cup, and she also organised the first women's football championship in Burundi. Nsekera has also led a successful national campaign to get women involved in refereeing, sports administration and coaching, as well as raising the awareness of sexual violence against women and HIV/AIDS.

The other winners of the IOC award were Maria Caridad Colon Ruenes of Cuba, Arvin Dashjamts of Mongolia, Danira Nakic Bilic of Croatia and Auvita Rapilla of Papua New Guinea.