Women football in Kenya has not received as much attention before as it is doing now. It is now becoming one of the most viable sports entities in the country, judging by the growth registered in the last two years or so.
This point can be further emphasized by the fact that on Thursday 15 March, governing body FKF issued a grant of 12 million shillings to teams plying in the Women’s Premier League (WPL), a first of its kind.
An unprecedented move that will see each of the 16 teams in the league pocket Kshs 750, 000 aimed at developing the game further. All this would have seemed a pipe dream five years ago when sponsors to the league UNICEF withdrew funding midway through the 2013 season.
In 2016 when the FKF management changed, improvement started trickling in immediately with the first steps made at reviving the women’s topflight which had lost direction under the previous regime.
The positivity injected in the game saw the national team Harambee Starlets qualify for a major tournament – the 2016 AWCON tournament in Cameroon, just after finishing as runners up at the CECAFA Women’s Challenge Cup in Uganda.
Since then the team has benefited from high profile friendly games including taking part in the COTIF tournament in Spain where they gained valuable experience playing against the likes of renowned teams like Benfica, Espanyol and Real Betis.
Women for women
The women’s game has received the necessary attention that it so rightly deserves and the current office has stayed true to its promise of growing the game.
More and more women have been put into positions of leadership. Former international Doreen Nabwire currently heads the Women’s Desk at the federation, tasked with all matters concerning women’s football in the country. Another international Ann Aluoch together with Jackeline Akoth and Caroline Ajowi form part of the Kenya U20 women team’s technical bench while Mary Adhiambo serves as assistant coach to the Harambee Starlets team.
Coaching clinics rolled out across different regions of the country have gone a long way in promoting the game across both genders. The basic and advanced coaching courses which is one of FKF’s flagship ventures has helped in getting more women involved in the game at the grassroots level and intends to reach 10,000 coaches countrywide with at least CAF C licenses in the next two years.
The Chapa Dimba tournament, a brain child of the federation together with partners Safaricom has given a platform for passionate young girls and boys to start their journey to become the next superstars at an early age.
The tournament, which soon heads to the national stage has laid down structures for young players between the ages of 16-20 to showcase their talent for professional clubs and national team coaches to scout.
A cup competition similar to the men’s GOtv Shield has also been introduced and will feature teams in the WPL as well as those in the second tier, Division One and will run concurrently with that of the men’s teams.
If the monies to be awarded to the winners come the end of the season are anywhere near the two million shillings that AFC Leopards, winners of the men’s edition in 2017, received and with the unification of the WPL into one league then it is safe to say that it is a new dawn in women’s football.