As over 80 female sports reporters collected diplomas during the second week of a fortnight-long course run by the AFP Foundation and FIFA in Dakar on Friday, participants were happy to reflect on the knowledge which had been imparted to them.
The journalists beamed with joy during a ceremony which was attended by several senior Senegalese politicians, Amsatou Fall, the Technical Director of the country’s FA, as well as two of the leading lights of women’s football in Senegal: Eliott Khouma, credited as the person responsible for introducing the female form of the game to Senegal and Seyni Ndir Seck, former captain of the national team.
The participants in the courses were members of the African Women Sports Reporters’ Union (AWSRU), representing a total of 23 countries and they were schooled in aspects of journalism and football theory. The first week took place at the end of 2010, with the concluding part last week.
“The training was a really good initiative,” Isatou Bittaye from Gambia’s Foroyaa newspaper told FIFA.com. “Female footballers in Africa hardly ever have good media coverage of their games – and this is where female journalists, like myself, can help to instigate a change. If more female journalists are trained, there will be more coverage of women’s games.
“The skills I learned during these sessions will help me, that’s for sure. For starters, I learned how to report on a football game and that’s something which my boss was keen for me to do. He believes that this training will help me improve my professional skills and that trained staff benefits the quality of the articles, which has a positive effect on the readership and my newspaper too.”
For Evelyn Watta from Kenya’s SportsnewsArena.com, she hopes that the training will help to inspire a new birth of women’s football throughout Africa.
“When you have regular reporting and more stories on women’s football, more people will learn about it and it will become more popular,” she told FIFA.com. “It could also attract corporate sponsors to support the local women’s leagues. For me that’s the biggest difference between the men’s and the women’s game at the moment. Due to the lack of coverage, the women’s game hardly attracts any interest and corporate sponsorship and unfortunately leagues struggle to honour the fixtures.
“Hopefully, now that I have the skills to write even better on female football, I will write more, so I can have a positive impact on the development of the game in Africa.”
Her colleague, Isatou agreed: “That’s true,” she said. “In Africa, women who play football face difficulties. Many people don’t like women to play football. They see the sport as a game for men only, so it’s difficult for women to succeed. Hopefully, this training will raise the status of women working in the media in Africa, but also the status of women in football too.”