The Namibian Football Association is launching a new women's football Development programme this year, called the 'Galz & Goals programme'. This initiative, aimed at young girls from age 11 to 15, could represent a breakthrough for Women’s Football in a country already heavily involved with FIFA in this very special aspect of football development.
With 3,700 players in six different leaguesdeveloping Women’s Football is definitely not a gimmick in Namibia. Ask Jacqui Shipanga, coach of the Namibia's Women's squad and a FIFA instructor : “Football provides social integration, and for the girls, it is important to integrate them into football the earliest possible opportunity. For a girl to play football and enjoy it, she has to feel that she’s in a familiar environment, one in which she belongs.”
Since the summer of 2008, FIFA and the Namibian FA have worked hand in hand to drive women’s football in this country into a new era. Namibia took part in the pilot stage of the gesture of FIFA’s support to women’s football at the Member Association level. This proactive and adaptable support is meant to spark development programmes from each country and provide assistance to maintain them.
It all starts with collaboration: FIFA organises an assessment of women’s football in the federation, with a specialised consultant. This assessment leads to recommendations and a strategic brainstorming between FIFA, the Namibian FA and its women’s football department. Afterwards, a coaching course takes place, teaching coaches not only on technical and tactical matters, but also on specific aspects of feminine football. This programme led to the adoption of a long-term plan by the federation regarding girls and women.
As part of this long-term plan, the Galz & Goals programme, developed in partnership with UNICEF and SCORE Namibia (Sports Coaches’ Outreach), shows that with a strong collaboration between the federation and its partners and a long-term strategy, great things can be achieved.
“This project was introduced in 2008 after a declaration of a long-term plan drawn up by M. Barry Rukoro, Secretary General of the NFA, Ms. Jacqui Shipanga, Head of the Women National team, myself and FIFA," said Jackey Gertse, Head of Women's Football at the NFA. "The girls love football here and the Galz & Goals initiative makes them feel safe and at home. And in addition to football, girls and community leaders will be given life skills training that will help them improve their self-confidence”.
This programme is a first in Namibia, seeking to establish structured football leagues at U-13 and U-15 level across the country while providing training for both players and their supervisors. Girls willing to join sign up for the programme at the National FA’s regional office after receiving information at their schools and academies. Following the registration period, the leagues are created. They run from March to June each year, and the seasons will be capped off by football festivals in each region. Two festivals were already organised this year, events that were made possible because of the early success of the programme.
As of today, more than 500 girls have signed up for the leagues, allowing an impressive 47 teams to be created in 3 regional leagues. This is a great start and allows the Namibian federation to be confident that the programme will meet its objectives to gather over 800 girls in six different regions by 2010.
For the long term, the federation expects more than 1500 girls to play regularly in each of the13 regions in the country, and envisions to develop the players and coaches’ tactical and technical skills through the programme.
Results are already tangible, with a Namibian under-14 team sent to the 2009 Norway Cup, and a plan for 2010 to select the top players in from the Galz & Goals project to participate in the Hessequa Youth Cup in South Africa. And in the near future, these girls that enrolled in 2009, could very well continue to be precursors for Women’s football in Namibia by becoming the next generation of coaches for the future Galz…
Women’s football is definitely on the right path in Namibia, as the Namibian federation also works in partnership with the German football federation on this special theme. FIFA will also follow up its ongoing work in this country with several projects in 2010: courses for referees, coaches, and a grassroots projects for girls from age 6 to 12 that would be a perfect complement to the “Galz & Goals programme”.