The 2017 Kenya Women Football terrain explained

Time will always tend to move fast when something you love is involved and for me this will always be women football. So was the 2017 season that flew past us and I am still wondering how best to wrap it up.

To begin with, happy New Year 2018! Please be nice to us because your predecessor had quite a lot for us and we hope that you will do better or should it be us to make good use of the time we have with you?

2017 was one of those years I thought would bring us good tidings as women soccer players and Women Premier league at large. Being the year after our first appearance in AWCON, it was obvious or so we thought that the efforts of our ladies would eventually open doors for funding for Women Premier league from our beloved country. The mood was very convincing judging by the joyous celebrations after the event of April 12th 2016 which was a historic moment for our Women’s’ National Team (Harambee Starlets). Would things have been different if this was Harambee Stars? Just asking going by what I saw when the team won CECAFA senior challenge cup!

WPL success mirage

And the sponsorship woes continued in 2017. Despite the zonal format of the league which was meant to reduce on league’s financial constraints for majority of the teams, this monster persisted and showed no interest of leaving us anytime soon. As usually, walk overs took center stage as most teams failed to honor their matches even at home capped by impromptu changes in fixtures! Nonetheless, a new format of league ensued where some teams played their home matches away! I mean where has this ever been heard of? Only in Kenya perhaps where everything seems to be possible except securing sponsorship for Women Premier League.

Being a top tier league, it’s naturally expected that every aspect of this league is top notch. The league plays a vital role in our national women’s team set up. There is no way we can expect quality performance at the national levels when the league is languishing. We have to manifest our intent to do better beginning with our league and I believe the federation has the capacity. The stakeholders have literally shouldered the burden of preparing players for the National team single-handedly and it’s about time the federation ups its game. I know the federation has been involved in one way or another but it can do better.

Among the top performing leagues in Africa, Kenya was ranked 4th. Now that is something to smile about thanks to online platforms who have made it their cup of tea to market women sports. Its sounds really awkward that countries like Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda can only sniff us from afar when they seem to be so organized financially. Believe it or not, Kenya has the best and with just a little more support Africa shall be ours to lose. Did I mention that Ethiopian Women Premier League is considered the highest paying league? Yes they are, but they can only manage position 5 for now.

2017 would also be year that Zone B decided that enough was enough and ensured the WPL trophy changed cabinets. Trans Nzoia also put Gaspo’s unbeaten run to test in Division 1 play offs and carried the day.

READ: Another feat for Vihiga as Queens are crowned WPL champions

National Team engagements.

Last year was a slow one for our National team especially senior starlets. After a high spirited fight in AWCON, our energies seemed to have drained completely. The national team played only one friendly match last year. Moreover, the team also had a chance of participating in COSAFA (Council of Southern Africa Football Association) Women championship as guest nation and our ladies didn’t disappoint despite being taught some vital lessons in the semifinals by Zambia courtesy of Makore and company. I still feel if we had better preparations prior to this tournament that trophy would be home now.

As we begin 2018, I will not emphasize the importance of early preparations. The federation should ensure that this time round our ladies are well prepared for the tasks ahead this year the first one being CECAFA. I know by now the office already has the events calendar, start planning early. It’s appalling for our women’s national team to play only one friendly match in the entire year and somehow expect miracles! We have major events ahead and unless we embrace the spirit of early preparations lets be ready to own whatever result comes our way.

Lest we forget, we also had under 20 world cup qualifiers. A good start it was especially for our young budding starlets. We may have lost with a big margin to Ghana and missed the opportunity to proceed to the next level but I was happy seeing the team play. The best moment was when Kenya scored a consolation goal at the dying minutes of the game. We may have lost that day but we scored against Ghana, which is not a push over as we all know. The big question is, what happens to the team after failing to qualify? Secondly, I still can’t believe we couldn’t raise under 17 women’s team. Whatever reason we gave, it denied a lot of young girls chance to prove their worth.

READ: Kenya pulls out of U17 World Cup qualifiers

Federation and stakeholders’ involvement.

Working together as a team is key to development of our game. Being a stakeholder, I know the pains we go through as women soccer players and Women Premier League teams. We may not all be at the same level but this brings us on one platform. The responsibility of building great teams lies with us in conjunction with the federation. We’ve had enough share of challenges in 2017 and we look forward to positive start this year.

As for the federation, I appreciate what you are doing towards uplifting women’s game but truth be told a lot still needs to be done. I am particularly unhappy with what almost happened with the play offs. When we had a meeting at the beginning of 2017, it was unanimously agreed that two top teams from each zone were to proceed to the play offs. Whatever happened along the way is a story for another day. Am happy that finally all went as earlier planned. 

Sponsorship is still a thorny issue and this needs urgent attention. In most occasions this burden has been left to individual teams which hasn’t borne any fruits. The federation being the football manning body should be actively involved in this to help with the growth of our lovely game.

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Blog presented by Ogonyo Sarah

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