Saturday 08 April 2023, 07:00

FIFA’s women’s development work delivering dividends in Uganda

  • Women’s Football Campaign in Uganda proves hugely successful

  • Huge turnout across three districts with aim of introducing new participants to football

  • Campaign comes after successful 12 months for women’s football in the East African nation

At the top end of the pyramid, 2022 proved to be a breakthrough year for women’s football in Uganda. The national team were crowned East Africa queens with victory in the CECAFA Women's Championship and, soon after, the Crested Cranes participated among the continent’s elite in their first CAF Africa Women Cup of Nations for over two decades. Now the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA), working in concert with FIFA, are seeking to supercharge the game at its base by implementing the world governing body’s Women’s Football Campaign. The campaign is designed to provide tailor-made support to associations in delivering grassroots and small-sided football events to boost the participation of young girls and promote existing competitions and programmes.

With an over-arching goal of introducing new participants to the game in a fun and engaging manner, programs have been rolled out over the past week across the districts of Yumbe, Koboko and Maracha. The campaign was preceded by an extensive course for some 60 instructors hailing from the three districts. Providing guidance on the ground for FUFA was FIFA Women’s Football Consultant Violet Jubane. Recently appointed Secretary General of Zimbabwean premiership club Sheasham FC and a FIFA Master alumnus, Jubane brought broad-ranging experience and guidance to the local organisers.

On-field events proved hugely popular in all three locations with numerous schools taking part and plenty of excited onlookers. Encouragingly too, local participants and stakeholders predict the program will help kick-start a flurry of activity. “This campaign has opened the eyes of the parents, the children themselves, the teachers and also the leaders of football. Therefore we expect a very big change,” said Uganda Women Football Association Margret Kubingi.

The various activities were attended by FUFA Executive Committee Members Chris Kalibala and Agnes Mugena, Secretary General Edgar Watson and a host of other association and local representatives. Adding some star power was campaign ambassador and Crested Cranes defender, Bridget Nabisaalu, who talked to the girls from the participating schools and played football with them.

“I hope my presence here will be a boost for more girls to play football,” she said. “Thanks to FUFA and FIFA for bringing such a project to the young girls because we need more players in the women’s leagues, and that starts with the grassroots. With more players from the grassroots, it will be mean more experienced players and it will be a big development for the Crested Cranes in the tournaments to come.” The festivities were held nearly a year to the day since Jubane was in Uganda to announce direct support for local women’s teams including financial assistance, equipment and capacity building. Not surprisingly given the success of the week and the successes of the past 12 months, Jubane believes there is every reason for optimism.

“We are really happy with the outcome and people have come in large numbers to witness and participate,” she said. “Some of the schools travelled a long distance on foot to participate. “The local community leaders have shown a lot of support and have given us assurance that they will continue to spread the word about football working together with the schools and other sports leaders. “We have seen strong acceptance from the local communities and they think football can really change the lives of their children.”