Friday 09 June 2023, 13:00

Women's Football Campaign successfully launched in Kenya

  • The Football Kenya Federation (FKF) has launched the Women's Football Campaign, one of eight FIFA women’s football development programme

  • Doreen Nabwire, Head of Women’s Football aims to make football the number one sport of choice for Kenyan girls

  • Sue Ronan: “The joy on the faces of everyone really brought home what a powerful tool football is.”

At the end of last week, all eyes were on Nairobi's Kasarani Annex Stadium as the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and FIFA launched the country’s Women's Football Campaign (WFC). It kicked off with a vibrant two-day tournament in which teams from primary schools from all over Nairobi participated.

The main objective of the programme is to promote and develop female players, supporting member associations through initiatives such as the organisation of grassroots and small-sided football events.

"The WFC has been instrumental in getting young girls to play football in many countries around the world. It’s very often the first taste of the game for many, so it’s important to provide these girls with a fun experience to ensure they want to stay in the game," said Sue Ronan, FIFA's Technical Advisor for Women's Football.

"Girls benefit from the programme because it allows them to play in a fun, safe and non-competitive environment. They also develop life-skills and form new friendships, something that particularly appeals to younger girls in sport," she added.

In Nairobi, participants were able to test their skills in 5-a-side football matches and also had the rare opportunity to interact with football ambassadors and legends, who acted as mentors and encouraged them to follow their dreams.

“I was absolutely amazed at what I saw at the launch in Nairobi. Firstly, from an organizational point of view, everything went off like clockwork – from the teams arriving on time for registration, to the cooperation of so many young kids throughout the opening ceremony and indeed the roll-out of the games itself. It was a credit not only to the staff of the FKF, but also to the coaches and mentors with each of the teams," continued Ronan enthusiastically.

"To not only see some great skill on show, but more importantly witness the absolute joy on the faces of the young girls playing, and their coaches and referees, really brought home to me what a powerful tool football is. At this point I felt confident that women’s football in Kenya will go from strength to strength over the coming years," she concluded.

The first steps in this direction have already been taken. On 14 July 2021, the FKF unveiled its new Women's Football Strategy, which aims to help highlight and develop the enormous potential of women's football in Kenya. In addition, skill-building workshops for administrators working in women's football have been held.

Nabwire and the Football Kenya Federation are currently being supported by FIFA on League Development, Club Licensing and the Women's Football Campaign; three of eight FIFA Women’s Football Development programmes which are available to all of FIFA’s 211 member associations worldwide.

"Key to our strategy is grassroots football, where we intend to increase participation of girls playing football and make it the number one sport of choice in Kenya for girls. The football campaign for us is the foundation where players will transition to the U-13 leagues, U-15 and finally county, regional and top-tier leagues, which will create a clear player pathway from grassroots to elite football," said Doreen Nabwire, Head of Leagues and Competitions and Head of Women's Football at the FKF.

These are ambitious goals for the 36-year-old, who represented Kenya for three consecutive years at Norway's biggest youth tournament, the Norway Cup, and played professionally in Germany and the Netherlands between 2009 and 2014. However, the fact that there were no organized women’s leagues in her homeland growing up inspired Nabwire to advocate for creating opportunities for girls.

"We’re seeking to professionalize our leagues and make our top-tier women’s league the most attractive regionally and continentally. We’re also seeking to build the capacities of female coaches, administrators and physiotherapists to grow the number [of players] and close the gap in technical abilities between male and female players," she concluded.

Images courtesy of the Football Kenya Federation