By John Tuerijama
POPULARLY known as women football’s iron lady, Jacky Gertze, is one of the pioneering football leaders who oversaw the development and recognition of women football, despite being faced with numerous challenges which include inadequate funding.
Both Gertze and Brave Warriors head coach, Jacqui Shipanga have been instrumental in the diversification of women football by introducing more women football leagues in the regions and thus attracting more girls to the game. This was done without adequate funding but they have persevered.
Confidente caught up with the Head of the NFA Women Department, Jacky Gertze (JG), to discuss the challenges facing women’s football, to highlight the challenges and plans for the future.
Confidente: How much money is really needed to successfully implement the NFA women desk’s programmes?
JG: We had N$13 987 000 for the 2015/2016 budget but if we can get N$5 000 000 quarterly then I guarantee you that we will be sorted out. It’s very important that you understand the structure before we address your questions.
These are the structures and organs of the Namibia Women Football Association, starting with the NFA Women Department – Administrative office of the Women Football Association; Youth Girls Football Development (Galz and Goals programme); Elite Players, which include head coach, talent scouting and training programme (under-15); senior national team, which includes Brave Gladiators – Westphalia, COSAFA, CAF, FIFA, International Players Transfer and Career Path Development.
We also have the junior national teams under 13 to under 20; COSSASA, CAF, FIFA programmes; Westphalia programmes; Healthy Lifestyle programmes, NFA Girls Center; Women Super League; Regional Women Football Leagues which are currently inactive as there is no sponsorship.
More than 400 coaches have been training in basic coaching under the Galz & Goalz programme.
Confidente: Compared to last year what were some of the challenges that caused the NFA Women Department not to successfully implement its programmes?
JG: Because we have national teams that will not be able to play friendly matches before they actually play a qualifier, it means they are not ready for international competitions because we can’t afford to even drive to Botswana or South Africa to play a friendly or to host those nearby countries for friendlies before any major competitions.
The coaches are lining up more than 10 local matches against the boys under 15 and U17 academy teams to strengthen the girls’ competitiveness. But this is not ideal as it can only be better if they can play their counterparts.
Brave Gladiators didn’t qualify for Cameroon 2016 after they lost and drew against Zambia. It means for the whole of 2016 there was no competition for them.
The under 20 didn’t qualify and the under 17 didn’t do badly but couldn’t pass the mighty Nigerians, so the silence at international level for our women national teams is because simply we didn’t qualify for any of the current ongoing world events. Period.
There is no money to engage in any international event, even just a friendly. These are the realities of the federations with small budgets and less financial support.
The women super league has been successfully completed. But we couldn’t pay prizes for such a well-organised league. As a Football Association we are looking at ways to remunerate our teams that have committed to the league. Once again we failed to support our regions that are interested to play league football such as, Erongo, Zambezi, //Karas, Kunene, Kavango East, Oshana. These regions wish to run fully fledged leagues but again another year has passed and we can’t support them financially.
Confidente: Despite all the challenges what will you describe as positive achievements by the NFA Women Department for 2016?
JG: I think the opening of the NFA Girls Centre, a safe place for elite but vulnerable football girls to help them achieve not only their football aspirations but also keep them safe, with good nutrition, well tutored study schedules, and creating a career path for them through the variety of vocational training offered, and other training opportunities that are offered on a weekly basis by our partners such as GIZ, SCORE, UNICEF, Red Cross Namibia, NAPPA and others.
We also have Elite Football Training supervised by coach Jacqui Shipanga and her in-house right hand man, coach Heriberth Kapeng. Thanks to GIZ, this facility was handed over in March 2016 and the first 15 Elite players were admitted on the 22 September 2016.We have a fulltime matron, cleaner, manager, a gardener (part-time). Coaching staff of the various women’s national teams are overseeing the Football Training in the absence of a centre-based coaching staff.
Another highlight is that we have sent out three professional players to Europe; two played up till the UEFA Champions League level while one got a four-year football scholarship to study and play in the USA. The other foreign-based player in Germany moved up from 3rd to 2nd Bundesliga level.
The most important highlight has been that the popular Galz & Goals Programme of the NFA has completed yet another season successfully with Khomas and the Ohangwena regions recording high entry participation of girls in the youth football leagues sponsored by SPAR Namibia and UNICEF.
The programme also got the needed support from UNICEF and FIFA to expand to the Oshana and Zambezi regions for the new season which will kick off in March next year.
Our head coach was recognised by CAF to serve on the CAF Think Tank for the selection of Africa’s best male and female players while our national under 17 team reached Round 2 of the FIFA under 17 World Cup Qualifiers, only to get knocked out by the African Champions Nigeria.
The successful completion of a colourful Women Super League without any sponsorship was a huge achievement for the head coach and her volunteer committee and staff.
Confidente: What are some of the programmes you so wish to introduce but cannot due to lack of funds and how will those programmes benefit young girls?
JG: We have introduced a short message service (SMS) in our youth football programme with assistance from UNICEF but we can’t seem to get it off the ground because there is no money to pay the host and to respond to text messages from the girls. We couldn’t host our popular annual under 15 and under 17 national championships, also because of lack of money.
Confidente: Looking at 2017, what are some of the important activities lined up for the Brave Gladiators and the Baby Gladiators?
JG: We are hoping to play in the Independence Celebrations of Namibia with the Gladiators and the Namibian Newspaper Cup curtain-raiser match. We will be hosting the Youth Four Nations Tournament in collaboration with Westphalia, Germany and the Ministry of Youth and Sport and the NFA for Under 23 Players -August school holidays.
We will be highly focused towards the 2018 qualifiers, provided we get the much needed funds to secure friendly matches before the qualification face.
Confidente: Now that Namibia has a handful of women internationals, how pleased are you with their individual performances at their respective clubs and do you think Namibia has the potential to add more players on the international grid?
JG: We are very proud of our professionals and foreign-based players. Annoushka Kordom joined a high profile Corbon Warriors FC in the Conference League of USA Universities. She scored over four goals and also has a lot of assists.
Her coach Hafeni was very happy with her contribution in a short time where she started as a striker and later started playing in a supporting striking role. She is also a student with the same University (Corbon) in medical studies on a four-year football scholarship.
Zenatha Coleman and Thomalina Adams did very well and won the league with their Lithuania Universiteit FC and played in the Champions League where Zenatha scored a goal in the opening match.
Veiue Kotjipati has helped her team from 3rd Division to the German 2nd Bundesliga. It was a very successful season for the Brave Gladiators speedy winger.
It is our wish and we are working around the clock to have at least two more core players playing in Europe. We are targeting players such as Emma Naris, Anna Shikusho, Lovisa Mulunga, Lorain Jossop and goalkeeper Melissa Matheus to find very good leagues that will actually help them develop to the desired highest level.
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