Women coaches emerge to take the lead

Women coaches emerge to take the lead
22 October 2014 12:25

Women football coaches in Africa is not a common sight, but it is gradually gaining grounds with more women taking up positions in a field once a reserve of the opposite sex.

For the first time in the history of the African Women Championship (AWC), three female coaches were in charge of teams at the ninth edition underway in Namibia.

The trio; Jacqueline Shipanga (Namibia), Clementine Toure (Cote d’Ivoire) and Dutch-born Vera Pauw, who is charge of South Africa are the three women coaches at the TN Mobile 9th African Women Championships.

This represents a huge leap considering that the department has been dominated by men in previous championships. In the past South Africa had taken the lead given women the opportunity to lead the Banyana Banyana at major continental championships, Fran Hilton-Smith and Nomalungelo Mooi at the 2000 and 2008 editions of the AWC held in South Africa and Equatorial Guinea respectively.

In 2010, Nigeria joined the crusade naming ex-star, Uche Eucharia, who went all the way to win the ultimate becoming the first woman to guide a team to the trophy at the biennial championship.

South Africa has gone a step further with the appointment of a foreign coach, Pauw, a former player of the Dutch national women’s team.


The women have shown much zeal backed by sound tactical decisions, which has seen two of them, Pauw and Toure, guiding their teams to the last four. One of the highlights of the tournament was the Group A day two clash between hosts, Brave Gladiators of Namibia and ‘Les Elephantes’ of Cote d’Ivoire which pitted two women coaches against each other. In the end, Toure triumphed over Shipanga 3-1 in a game rated one of the best at the tournament thus far.

The eloquent Shipanga warmed her way into the hearts of the locals thanks to the effective play of her team, unfortunately there was no place for them beyond the group phase. A champion of the campaign to get more women into coaching, Shipanga is very much thrilled to be part of the historic feat of three female coaches at the flagship women’s football tournament.

“It is long overdue. It has grown from having just one coach to three and this is historic. The choice of women’s coach is largely dependent on the country (Federation). The three coaches have shown that women deserve better,” she told Cafonline.com.

She was very positive that more women would be encouraged to take up to coaching after lasting memories in the minds of all.

Hilton-Smith, who was at the helm of Banyana Banyana in 2000 and a member of the CAF Technical Study Group (TSG) at the ongoing tournament described the presence of three women coaches as a giant leap.

Three women coaches at AWC
“Having three women coaches at the AWC for the first time is a big step forward for the development of National coaches in Women’s football in Africa and the world. The fact that two of them have reached the semi-final-Vera Pauw (South Africa) and Clementine Toure (Cote d’Ivoire) - is an indication that women coaches can do it if given the necessary training and most importantly the opportunity by their respective federations.”

Kudos to FIFA and CAF
“All three are FIFA Instructors and thanks must go to FIFA for hosting Instructors courses to empower women coaches. Kudos must also go to CAF for hosting coaching courses in Africa to empower women coaches, under the CAF Technical Director Abdel Monein Hussein that both Clementine Toure and Jacqueline Shipanga have attended. These courses ensured that they got the training they needed to reach these great heights.”

Role models for other women
“They are all three real role models for other women to take up a career in coaching football. It is clear that their tactical awareness has ensured that the teams qualify for the semi-finals.”

Suggestion to get more women on board
“All football countries in Africa, and the world, should insist that at least one of the two coaches in the national women’s teams is a woman. FIFA and CAF must also recommend this.

“I think there is still a backlog of thinking that coaching in football is a man’s job and women are not given the opportunity. Many women don’t see a future in coaching and this perception needs to be changed by ensuring that each National team has a women coach,” concluded Hilton-Smith who doubles as a FIFA & CAF Instructor.

With the stage set, there is a strong likelihood that a female coach may be on the winning team of the tournament, but they face still challenges from their male counterparts; Edwin Okon (Nigeria) and Enow Ngachu (Cameroon).

Fixtures and Results