Ronaldo’s review

Portia Mlilo

Mares Coach reflects on Women’s World Cup

On Sunday, millions tuned in for the Final of the Women’s Football World Cup, watching in awe as a clinical strike from Spanish captain, Olga Carmona, sealed a 1-0 win to break English hearts.

The breathtaking finale was a fitting climax to a high-quality tournament bursting with excitement and moments of magic, bringing the curtain down on what was truly an excellent advert for the ladies game.

Amongst the watching millions was Botswana Women’s National team coach, Gaoletlhoo ‘Ronaldo’ Nkutlwisang, who shares her thoughts on the sporting spectacle that was…

I’m sure you’ve been hooked to your TV watching the Women’s World Cup like the rest of us – what was your overall impression of the tournament?

Yes I was following, though I was watching repeats because most of the games were played when I was at work. It was an interesting competition full of surprises and African teams also did well.

Which teams caught your eye?

The team that was interesting to watch is Spain. I think they deserved to win this cup. They came prepared. You could see that they were on a mission and they were an organised unit.

How about standout players?

Spain’s 19-year-old striker, Salama Parallulo, and their creative midfielder, Jennifer Heremoso, even though she missed a penalty in the final. They did very well and played beautiful football.

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Also Lauren James from England and their goalkeeper, Mary Earps, both impressed me. These are the key players, I feel they contributed a lot.

Your favourite moment of the tournament?

Interestingly a female coach [Sarina Weigman] reached the finals and her team [England] played well. This shows that women are also capable provided they are given the necessary resources to groom a girl child in football.

The Mares famously drew with Morocco at last year’s WAFCON. We saw the North Africans get to the knockout stages of the WC, what will it take for Botswana to do the same?

I think we were so unlucky to have not qualified. I still believe that Botswana will qualify now that the current BFA leadership is giving us the necessary support. We have proved ourselves on the field with the little resources and managed to qualify for WAFCON.

The President of the Spanish FA made headlines for kissing a player on the lips when handing her winners medal – your thoughts on this, and is sexism something local players experience?

(Laughing) He is a parent, I believe he was over excited. Of course we might say it was inappropriate looking at the sexual harassment cases that happen especially in women football, but I don’t think it was.

Last time we spoke, back in 2020, I was shocked to learn you don’t receive a salary – is this still the case?

Yes, I am still a volunteer doing it for the love of my country. I still get P150 per day during camps, nothing has changed!

What are the Mares up to currently? When are the ladies next in action and what big tournaments are coming up?

The next assignment is the Olympic qualifiers, which will start in October. Players are currently training with their clubs but I am worried our preparations are not as robust as the previous ones when we qualified for WAFCON.

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