The trials of coaching women footballers

The trials of coaching women footballers

MASERU – Coaching a women’s football team can be very daunting and stressful, you have to deal with different emotions because, unlike men, women tend to take things very personally.
However, for Basetsana and Lesotho national head coach, Monaheng Montšo, it comes naturally.
A veteran in local football, Montšo has been involved in women’s football for as long as he can remember and he started Basetsana Women’s Football Club from scratch in 2001 as a development team.
At the time the club was developed as a platform for girls to play and enjoy football. The Women’s Super League did not exist and he started with about five girls at Unity Primary School.

Due to the low number of players, Montšo mixed the team with boys but the interest started growing and more girls joined the team until it got to a point where he had all the players being girls and had to separate them from the boys.
Basetsana was one of the founding clubs when Lesotho’s top-flight Women’s Super League was launched in 2015.
The club has grown in leaps and bounds. When the team was still in its developmental stages it had players aged between 13 and 15 years. Some of those players have stopped playing and are now managing the team.

Montšo was a player himself and played for Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) where he discovered his love for coaching and decided to start development teams for boys and girls. His experience working with girls is not only at club level. He is the coach of the women’s national team, Mehalalitoe.
Montšo opened up about his love for women’s football this week to thepost and revealed the challenges the women’s game faces.

Despite his commitment to women’s football, he revealed that he is always looking for other challenges and if an opportunity to coach a men’s team arose he wouldn’t hesitate to take it. Basetsana have other coaches coming up who are working with the legendary coach and he believes if he were to leave, the team would be left in the capable hands of his colleagues.

At the moment, though, his focus is on helping the team grow and reaching greater heights in women’s football in the country.
“I played football and I started as a player for LDF,” Montšo told thepost.
“When I was there I was coaching young boys, some of whom I ended up playing with. Then I started a development team for boys and girls. The women’s team played until the Super League was formed and it was one of the teams that the league was founded with. I think we started in 2001, it was way back because some of the players are now managing the team,” he said.

“Girls love football, that’s what I realised and they had no teams to join so we started with a few players, maybe five but that number grew. They were playing with the boys but we had to separate them when the number got bigger.
“It has been a difficult journey because the players don’t have equipment such as boots and stuff that they need, even now that is still a challenge the parents still don’t understand that their children play football and need this equipment,” he said.

There is also a trend in women’s football of girls wanting to behave like men. It goes from their behaviour to their way of dressing and Montšo believes mimicking boys and wanting to be like men is one of the reasons why parents are reluctant to let their daughters play football.
As a coach Montšo speaks to parents all the time to convince them that it is not the case. He revealed he has had to step in between parents and some of his players because the parents complain about the bad behaviour of such players at home.

He praised the level of understanding girls have compared to men and said the players are always looking to learn and improve their performances.
Montšo admitted that sometimes he has to check how he talks to his players especially when things are not going right.
He said he does raise his voice but only when he has to.
“I think that is one of the things we see because these girls idolise men and then they want to be like their idols,” Montšo said.

“As the coach I have had parents call me asking me to talk to certain players they were complaining that they no longer listen to them when they try to reprimand them. Starting from next season we are going to put laws down.
“Being a girl who is playing football doesn’t mean you have to be like men, you can still be a girl and play football,” he said.
“With girls it is challenging because they like a person who is always talking to them but I am used to it now so they are able to see in time when I am not happy. They understand what we are trying to do and they are always willing to learn unlike boys who sometimes talk back at you, but girls don’t do that.
“We have a lot of players. We train at Lesotho High School. We have a development (team) that plays on weekends against other development teams. We have a talented team, they know the basics – how to trap and pass the ball – which is what we look at when we bring a player although we still take those who can’t and teach them,” he said.

The Women’s Super League is in its fourth year. Reigning champions LDF Ladies are once again dominating the league and lead the log at the moment.
Montšo said this season Basetsana’s aim is to finish in the top four but he promised that next season they have to go for the title at all costs.

In December, Basetsana and Kick4Life Ladies were in Botswana to participate in an annual women’s football tournament.
Montšo took a depleted squad as some of his first-choice players were injured and he used the tournament to give fringe players a chance. He hailed the trip for what it has done for his team saying some players stepped up and have been deputising for those who are injured.

Tlalane Phahla

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