A year ago today, CAF launched its inaugural Women’s Sympossium with the theme, “Raising our Game”.
Our ‘Game’ is football but realistically where are we as far as Women’s football is concerned globally?
What is our position in society today as African female football players or administrators?
How can more African women engage in the field of play or administration in our game?
How can we use football to help our women raise their stakes, standards, efforts and expectations ?
At a well attended high profile event hosted in Morocco, a platform was created aimed at giving an opportunity to African female football stakeholders to unite as a force for Gender Empowerment and Change through Football.
Looking back on this day last year we ask; what lessons have been learnt?
what changes if any...?
what does the future hold for our game in the continent.?
Change in our Game has definitely come but the pace and manner in which this change is coming will always be subject to debate.
Our AFCON matches continue to thrill and expose talents. An emerging rise in African federations taking a keen interest in developing the women’s game like Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Angola, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Mali, Kenya, have towed the line alongside the usual iconic amazon heroines from Nigeria, Cameroon, and Ghana.
It was pure joy and immense pride to watch Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala pick up BBC’s Woman’s footballer of the year, and the talented Chrestinah Thembikgatlana from South Africa pick up two CAF Awards for best goal and best Female player this year.
An interesting new young talent from Malawi, Tabitha Chawinga was also nominated at the CAF awards this year. This for me is growth and a step in the right direction.
We have come a long way defying the odds and overcoming challenges yet still the struggle continues, but remember that every accomplishment comes with the commitment to try.
Increasingly, impatient cries for an African female club champions league continue to grow louder which in my opinion is a good sign for it means we are rearing to go and hungry to compete at every level.
The newly established CAF women’s football development department is a clear indication that our game is more than just a token lip service.
My hope and prayer is that this time next year our narrative will be an exciting new evolvement.
I can never tire of resounding this sentiment, which is that; ”football is more than just ninety minutes on the pitch.”
Football has a universal powerful language and a tool to heal and unite. This power can lead to chaos and turmoil if used as a political weapon which unfortunately has increasingly become the case especially in our continent.
Finally, looking back on a year ago today, I applaud and salute my sisters and womenfolk not forgetting the men who have stood by and supported us as we strive to Raise Our Game. The best is yet to come
Enjoy the memories and God bless us all.
Isha Johansen President Sierra Leone Football Association CAF Executive Committee Member. CAF Women’s Committee Chair.