Top FIFA instructor conducts seminar

Top FIFA instructor conducts seminar

MASERU – As part of continued efforts to develop women’s football, the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) is hosting a weeklong coaching course at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena.
The seminar, which began on Monday, ends tomorrow and a total of 28 coaches are being put through their paces by Jacqueline Shipanga, a FIFA coaching instructor from Namibia.
The overarching theme of the get-together is to find ways to improve women’s football which, according to Shipanga, is on the up as demonstrated by Lesotho’s increasing involvement in COSAFA, CAF and FIFA competitions.

The case in point is Lesotho’s women national team, Mehalalitoe, which returned to international competition in 2016 after spending three years without kicking a ball.
Since then Lesotho has played 12 FIFA recognised games and this year took part in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers for the first time since 2011.
Mehalalitoe managed to beat Swaziland 3-1 in the first round of the qualifiers before falling to South Africa at the final hurdle.
All this progress can be traced to the inauguration of the Women’s Super League in 2015 – Lesotho’s first top-flight ladies league – and Shipanga said in order to build on the progress, it is crucial to regularly host such courses.

“Lesotho is on the right track because the country participates in FIFA World Cup qualifiers and CAF qualifiers as well as COSAFA (competitions) so it is important that we all congratulate LEFA (but) Lesotho football coaches are in dire need of refresher courses more often to help them with skills and also remind them of the laws of the game,” she said.
It is even more vital, Shipanga continued, to discover and develop players at a young age.

“I believe in a notion that says ‘hands on the current and eyes on the future’,” she said.
“It is important to recruit children from an early age so that they grow into the sport and they have to participate in youth competitions to get experience and exposure. If we are going to have COSAFA under 17 or 18 (tournaments), it is going to be hard to get players if children are not recruited at early stages.”

Those young players, of course, need quality coaching to reach their potential, which is where initiatives such as this week’s coaching seminar come in.
Shipanga said it should be possible to host more courses, thanks to the FIFA “Forward” Development Programme which was launched in 2016 by the football world governing body.
The programme, according to FIFA, is tailor-made to support football development in each of FIFA’s 211 member associations and six confederations.
As part of the programme, each national association has access to US$750 000 per year for football projects such as pitches, competitions and women’s football.
Every association also receives up to US$500 000 per year for running costs in areas including administration and governance.

“FIFA president (Gianni Infantino) has set up strategic and deliberate programmes that will help women’s football such as the FIFA “Forward” Programme,” Shipanga said.
“A lot of funding will be given to federations more specifically to develop and assist the member associations with establishment of the leagues and participate in various competitions.”
She added: “We are focusing on the intermediate because most of the coaches have attended level one (coaching courses). It is also important to keep the girls who have been playing for a long time in the game because they are the future coaches and administrators.”

Women’s football in Lesotho definitely needs all the help it can get.
Despite the admirable enthusiasm of those involved in the women’s game, it faces huge challenges when it comes to infrastructure and resources.
Clubs, for example, do not have sponsors and players need separate jobs because they are not paid which sometimes makes them unavailable for their teams.
A person well-versed with these issues is Women’s Super League president Maleshoane Mokhathi.

She says the country has to improve on a lack of planning and a failure to recruit players at an early age.
“We have to start by developing our kids at an early stage; in fact, we need to start at primary school level so that they grow up knowing football thoroughly. We start developing players when they get to high school and that has to change,” Mokhathi said.

“We fail to identify kids because we do not pay attention to them enough to see what they could do best,” she added.
“As coaches we have to improve ourselves so that rolling from step A to step B becomes easy for the sake of developing our game.”

Nkheli Liphoto

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