SOURCE: Botswana Daily News

Adorned in bright orange and white kit bustling with youthful energy and singing in bright high-pitched rhythmic voices, about 84 girls brought Tsabong Stadium to life on Saturday making their first touch with football.

The initiative, dubbed Women’s Football campaign #living Football supported by soccer’s world governing body International Federation of Association of Football (FIFA), saw girls aged 6-12 years merrily punching the air with orange FIFA flags in an extravagant emotional display of patriotism to the game.  

“FIFA’s intention is to chart a new path by increasing the level of female participation in football to grow women's football exponentially at all levels to increase the level of female participation in football and shape new revenue streams,” said the Botswana Football Association (BFA), National Women Football Committee vice chairperson Sello Modise during handing over of football equipment.

He said the implementation of tailor-made childhood development programs in football was part of FIFA’s advances to close the gender gap in football.

Modise asserted that giving the girl child first touch in football was part of the BFA strategy pillar of grassroots football development.

So far, he said women's development programme had been launched in six centres.

Two of them, which included Tsabong, were funded by FIFA while the other four were funded by Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB).

He said FIFA's women's football development campaign had given BFA equipment consisting of 85 balls, 65 bibs, 100 t-shirts, and four bags for balls to support the grassroots development of women's football in Tsabong.

The move is in line with building progressive women's football as BFA has set a target of qualifying for the 2025 Women's Football World Cup.

“By 2031, these children will be ripe enough in football and some may be playing for the national team. When they are given the right foundation, their transitioning from here to youth will feed under 17 and they will ultimately be ready for the national team,” he said.

He highlighted that their objective was to encourage young girls to have fun in the game.

Modise encouraged the local community to keep the fire burning to be able to yield results for Tsabong.

He added that the western block had challenges on women's football as they had no representation under the recent DTCB competition hence the need to boost them with grassroots development.

“Tsabong is very capable. Let us have youth teams, let us have youth leagues, prepare them for all stages,” he said.

He said for the young girls to make it in football, it was critical to encourage parents to support their children and all stakeholders as football develops children mentally, socially, and physically.

BFA Western Block chairperson, Tuelo Serole appreciated the development.

He said the block, which covered Tsabong, Kang, Hukuntsi, and Ghanzi lagged behind in women's football development hence it was important to initiate young girls in football and include them in FIFA Connect.

He said when the Bonnita competition was played there were no youth teams from the block. “We are hoping that next year we will have youth teams. They must be registered to participate.

We shall hold a women’s league in the Western Block,” he divulged.

Serole also encouraged the local business community to support the women's football league and support the girls with boots and any other form. He buttressed the need for responsible use of donated equipment, ‘batho ba BFA ke ba, ba tlogela dilo ke tse. A e seka ya re ba tswa jaana re bo re di tlogela re di beela fale. A re di dirise, bana ba dirise football go ikgapha mo dilong tse dintsi,’ he said.

For his part, Tsabong Regional Football Association chairperson, Keleeme Bahakgametse appreciated that they started on the right track.

He said raising a girl child in football required a collective effort by all stakeholders.

Bahakgametse said it was important to keep them busy and transform their mindset.

On the day, the girls were taken through life skills, survival skills, hygiene, basic football techniques and skill development, dribbling, passing, and running with the ball by coaches.

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