ONE WOMAN’S PURSUIT FOR FOOTBALL EXCELLENCE
Whilst strides have been made across board to expose and encourage people to pursue their passions including careers previously believed to be male orientated, women still remain in the minority.
A fact challenged by one woman’s commitment to change the tide where the game of football is concerned.
A professional football coach, Barobi Nwako says the football pitch is as much a woman’s haven as it is for men.
“I have gone through an extensive coaching course leading to my certification for CAF and I’m still striving to get my PRO license. I won’t rest without attaining it,” She says
Ngwako’s love for the beautiful game and ultimately her pursuit for office began humbly 15 or so years ago.
“I started as a mere coach where it was even rare to find women in the sport.”
As a teacher at Mmusi Primary Nwako coached the under 12 boys team that qualified for Chappies little league for three consecutive years leading to team being conferred champions for the Kgatleng region.
“This was a great boost to my confidence and I never looked back since.”
The cheerful but stern young coach committed to aid in contributing to the growth of football beyond the region.
“I learned from the best and feel compelled to share my expertise with others. It is only when knowledge is shared that we can count on making the necessary changes to develop the much loved sport further,”she says.
Her journey includes development of quite a number of outstanding players who currently play in the BTC league.
“ I am extremely proud of this achievement and in addition I have also lent my coaching experience to a programme called school of excellence that was sponsored by Debswana and Botswana National Sports Council in 2004.
Quizzed on why she is driven to succeed in this unchartered terrain, Ngwako responds; “I love the game and I love my country. To be able to make a difference in others’ lives through my role as coach has certainly given me a sense of belonging.”
Nwako however readily admits that the road she has travelled has not been easy.
“Becoming a coach educator is not child’s play. It takes sacrifices and discipline.”
Nwako says she was helped to keep her eyes on the ball by drawing inspiration from those that came before her.
“Early on I was inspired by Hope Powell who is now a FIFA consultant. At the time she was coaching England women’s national team if I am not mistaken because I was young at the time. I was fascinated and vowed to myself that if she did it, then I sure could as well.”
Though Ngwako has not coached a national team she has reason to smile as her achievements as an instructor and as a Premier Skill Coaching Consultant are impressive.
Nwako’s responsibilities entail coordinating programmes pertaining to women’s football from grassroots level to elite as the Development Officer Women’s Football and she also assists the national women’s committee administration.
“Women’s football is still at infancy stage hence there is ample room to improve. We need to align our football to men’s and help to come up with robust development structures that will help feed our Leagues and National teams in future.”
Ngwako says there is still a perception that women have no place where football is concerned and often the environment can be hostile.
“Female coaches are at times not given a chance by their male counterparts to show case their knowledge simply because of their gender. This stalls progress and is demoralizing.”
Despite this, Ngwako strongly encourages women to get involved.
“Football is not exclusively a boys club, but rather everyone’s game. Women should not be comfortable with being spectators as they too have an important role to play. They should not succumb to intimidation but rather rise to the occasion and claim their place.”
Nwako adds that despite missing out on some life’s pleasures, she would not trade her job for anything.
“I have fifteen years of experience under my belt having volunteered in football since I was 23 years of age. Football is part of my life. If I were to die today I’ll die a very happy Motswana who has contributed in sports development for her country but I’ll miss my kids a lot as they have missed me a lot due to the frequent travelling. I would miss my family especially the twins, she chuckles. Away from talking shop, Nwako says she makes time to socialize with friends for relaxation and displaying her light natured side, she adds “I am a God fearing woman although I miss church a lot these days.”