Transforming BW women’s football
In the history of football, women are rarely given a chance to showcase their talents when it comes to administration.
37-year-old Tsholofelo Sethoko is looking to change that.
In August, the Maun-native was named Head of Women Football in Botswana in an effort to resurrect the local ladies game.
Although performances on the pitch have been admirable – as evidenced by the senior national team’s Olympic qualifying victory over South Africa earlier this year – the sport has been crippled by a lack of finances.
Sethoko’s mandate is to come up with strategies to help women’s football regain its status.
Her impressive resume suggests she is the perfect individual for the job.
With a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education from University of Botswana, Diploma in International Coaching in Hungary, FIFA Club Administrators Course, CAF Women Administrative Course, and FIFA Basic level for Coaches and Assistant coaches, FA Introduction to Coaching Girls and Women football, if Sethoko can’t do it, it’s hard to see who can!
Voice Sport’s Tshepo Kehimile kicked back with the great hope of local women’s football to discuss her journey to date and what to expect in the future.
Q. When did your passion for sport start?
I was born and raised into a football family. My father, Letlhogile Sethoko was a manager for Maun Tigers FC, which was a big club back in my youth days.
Attending football games was a norm every Saturday and Sunday as a family and my mother Dorcus Sethoko was one of the first female referees in Maun.
My parents are big supporters of Township Rollers – (laughing) I became an outsider and supported Notwane FC but that was the influence of working with Christopher Rabalago, who was a development coach there in 2003.
I must say he produced talented players like Letumile Molebatsi, Galagwe Moyana, Kereng Mpetang and Lemogang Maswena just to mention a few.
I was part of that youth development programme and the only female coach.
Q. What are your ambitions?
My enthusiasm and belief that football is for all took me to where I am today.
There was a lot of resistance as many believe a women’s place is in the kitchen; but I believe my place lies with my passion for anything I want to be in this world as a woman.
Dwayne Johnson once said, ‘Don’t be afraid to be ambitious about your goals, hard work never stops, neither should your DREAMS.’
Q. Who is your role model in terms of sports administration?
I look up to Ashford Mamelodi who is one of the best Football administrators we have in Africa.
His passion and dedication to the development of football is tremendous.
Please share your personal experience.
Being able to work with amazing football people who pushed me to the limit and made sure that there was a place for women in Botswana football.
I worked with great Premier League teams – Gaborone United and Notwane FC – and coaches like Major David Bright, China Odirile Matlhaku, Rasta Kgengwenyane, Christopher Rabalago and working with Technical Directors like Losika Keatholetswe, Sonnyboy Sethibe who believed I had what it takes to be a female coach/administrator pushed me even harder to make my mark in the sport industry.
I also I got the opportunity to work for one of the biggest fitness brand in Botswana at Virgin Active Health Club as the Fitness Manager for five years and there I got to learn a few skills in terms of administration affairs especially managing people, customer service, budgeting and leading just to mention a few which drilled me on how to become an effective manager.
Furthermore, I am working with the current BFA Technical Director, Serame Letsoaka, who has been guiding me since day one in my new post.
I believe what I am learning from him, I will use to achieve my goals, which are to bring positive value to my country.
I am excited with this new prospect because I am working directly with strong women like Tsoseletso Magang, who has achieved a lot in our local sports.
I am confident women’s football will go forward.
Q. How do you rate the standard of women’s football in Botswana?
I think the sport has grown over the years. This year, the girl’s impressive World Cup qualifiers performance was an example of growth in our football.
Even though the standard of football in Botswana is still low there is so much talent and positives, especially with 5 out of 17 regions in Botswana already playing in a leagues set up – which are Gaborone, Kweneng, Francistown, Boteti and Nhabe.
However, local women’s football is faced with serious challenges such as lack of interest from leadership, no database for players, coaches, referees and administrators, lack of funds and limited media coverage just to mention a few – hence it is difficult to proceed.
Q. What must be done to improve the standard?
Firstly, BFA in collaboration with FIFA has just finished a strategy plan for women in Botswana that will guide and give direction to women football.
The strategy has four priority foundations and they are as follows: Coaching and Capacity Building – undertaking the needs assessments of our local women football coaches and referees. Making sure there is a serious coach education programme for our coaches, who I believe are our custodians and play a big part in insuring there is development in our country.
Grassroots and Player Development – a player’s long-term pathway in the development of football is very important with appropriate age specific categories.
Making sure that we develop sustainable school football programmes with school of excellence centers equipped with highly skilled coaches plays a key tool to the development of women football in Botswana.
Grassroots development and youth leagues for U15 and U17 are a priority for me in my mandate to grow mass participation of women football in the country.
Structure and Administration- without trained regional administrators to administer the programmes then we have nothing.
BFA has been on a journey for the past few months with the ‘Time For Change’ training programme in different regions and Administrations Training as the core for the initiative in collaboration with Ashford Mamelodi in a movement to develop football Administrators.
I think this initiative will also benefit women football as we have women football administrators being trained in regions.
Changing Perceptions – education and awareness of women football is very important as we have to teach the nation in breaking the stereotype that football is for boys.
Everyone can play football, the young, old, girls and boys. One of the key objectives for FIFA is to make football accessible to all kids of all backgrounds.
Q. In your current post, what do you hope to achieve?
I would like to see the implementation of sustainable grassroots programs with highly trained coaches in the following schools of excellence for girls in the four blocks of Botswana being: Radisele Community Junior Secondary School (CJSS), Madiba Senior School, Tsabong Unified school and Mogoditshane Senior School and equipped with four secondment of national team coaches overseeing and monitoring the programs of the project to develop our girls.
This will be done to feed National Leagues and National teams.
Coaching and capacity building is another main concern for me as I have observed that 90 percent of coaches involved with women football are not qualified to be coaches for our football programs.
Having them trained is a priority! School Football is another area that can help our youth development for under 15 and 17 become successful.
Q. What is the future of local women’s football?
FIFA has taken two important steps for the continuous development of the women’s game beyond its flagship event.
First was the inauguration meeting of the FIFA Professional Women’s Football Task-force this year in France.
The objective of the task-force is to bring together the main women’s football stakeholders to inform FIFA’s decision making processes by identifying key areas and measures that can accelerate the future growth of women’s professional game.
FIFA has also increased finance by 20 percent for women football and to me this shows that the future is bright.
Q. What advice can you give to aspiring female footballers?
Every girl deserves a place to play football and every player deserves to strive for the impossible.
There should be no limitations, because women’s football is football for all and as BFA we commit to making a difference.
This journey is not only for the Association but for all stakeholders!
Q. And finally, Thank God It’s Friday – what are your plans for the weekend?
I’ll be watching the Botswana Games as our women’s national teams are preparing for Under 17 and 20 World Cup qualifiers and most of our players will be taking part.
On Sunday it’s church.