The Football Kenya Federation (FKF) and FIFA jointly inaugurated last week the much-anticipated Women’s Football Campaign (WFC) at the Kasarani Annex Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya. The campaign debut was marked by a vivacious two-day tournament in which primary school teams from across Nairobi took part, adding an enthusiastic pulse to the opening of the programme.
The core ambition of the WFC is to nurture and advance female football talent and this programme is designed to aid member associations through the orchestration of grassroots and small-sided football events.
Reflecting on the global impact of the WFC, Sue Ronan, FIFA’s Technical Advisor for Women’s Football, stated, “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.”
According to Ronan, the programme caters to the players by offering a congenial, safe, and non-competitive environment that encourages participation. Alongside developing essential life skills, it also cultivates new friendships, an aspect that tends to appeal to young sportswomen.
In Nairobi, budding footballers were given the chance to exhibit their skills in 5-a-side matches and interact with football ambassadors and legends. This interaction served as an encouragement to these young players, inspiring them to pursue their dreams.
Expressing her awe at the launch, Ronan added, “I was absolutely amazed at what I saw at the launch in Nairobi. It was a credit not only to the staff of the FKF but also to the coaches and mentors with each of the teams. 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.”
This event was just the beginning of Kenya’s path towards uplifting women’s football. On 14 July 2021, the FKF unveiled its new Women’s Football Strategy, aiming to amplify and develop the untapped potential of women’s football in the country.
Doreen Nabwire, Head of Leagues and Competitions and Head of Women’s Football at the FKF, is being assisted by FIFA on various fronts such as League Development, Club Licensing, and the Women’s Football Campaign. These are part of the eight FIFA Women’s Football Development programmes offered to all of FIFA’s 211 member associations worldwide.
Nabwire shared, “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.”
Nabwire, a former professional footballer herself, played in Germany and the Netherlands from 2009 to 2014. However, the lack of organised women’s leagues in her home country inspired her to advocate for greater opportunities for girls.
“We’re seeking to professionalise 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, outlining an ambitious path for the future of women’s football in Kenya.