Lack of support leaves women’s football in doldrums

By Michael Uugwanga

FORMER Brave Gladiators coach Jacky Shipanga, now general manager for women’s football has expressed her disappointment in the Namibia Football Association (NFA)’s apparent lack of interest in the Brave Gladiators.

Shipanga resigned from her position as head coach in 2017 as she felt that women’s football does not get the necessary support as the men’s senior team, the Brave Warriors, as one of the reasons she stepped down.

Shipanga told Confidente Sport about the lack of financial support from the mother body towards the Brave Gladiators and the importance of appointing a long-term coach.

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Since leaving her post as head coach, Brian Isaacs was appointed to the post, but Isaacs’ time with the national team did not turn out as planned due to his work commitments as an employee in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, while at the same time Isaacs is also head coach of Civics Football Club in the Namibia Premier League (NPL). On top of that he is also the technical director of Sport Klub Windhoek (SKW) Football Club.

This past year was one the Brave Gladiators would rather forget as they struggled to cope against regional opponents.

They were at the receiving end of a 3-2 aggregate defeat to Botswana in the FIFA Women’s 2020 Olympic Qualifiers, when Namibia first lost the first leg 1-0 in Gaborone before they played out to a 2-2 all in Windhoek in April.
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At the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) senior women’s championship, the Brave Gladiators failed to reach the knockout stage following two group match defeats (1-0) to Botswana and a 3-2 loss to Zambia), although they managed to brush aside Mauritius 8-0 in their final group match, but it was too late leaving them in third place in group B with three points.

Shipanga made no secret about the ideal candidate to be appointed a permanent coach for the Brave Gladiators and that is former Brave Warriors and Kaizer Chiefs winger Robert Nauseb, now coach of Eleven Arrows FC in the Namibia Premier League (NPL).

Nauseb was deployed as assistant coach of the Brave Gladiators at the Cosafa Cup as part of Cosafa’s rules to have a female head coach.

“Talent is there. Our biggest challenge is lack of lifestyle [support] for our players. The question regarding the appointment of a full-time coach is very critical. The NFA has only prioritised the Brave Warriors in the coaching department. Congratulations on Bobby Samaria’s appointment as head coach but equally I also want coaching for women’s football to be a priority early next year by February.

“It is not that we did not identify a coach. We have Robert Nauseb, who is a qualified coach.
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Mamie Kasaona was just the coach at Cosafa because it is Cosafa’s rules to have a female head coach. I can show you all the plans I have with me and have handed them to the NFA but till today we have not received any positive feedback from the NFA.

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“We had a bilateral agreement with South Africa to play friendly matches, however the last time we played Banyana Banyana was 2014. I am really tired with the issue of ‘there is no money’, while there is so much money for the men’s team (Brave Warriors). The NFA has neglected the youth.

“For those that will be elected into power they should consider including women’s football when negotiating with sponsors. For example, when they negotiate with sponsors, Brave Warriors should get 50 percent, while 30 percent towards Brave Gladiators and 20 percent for youth football,” stressed Shipanga.

The 2020 Women Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers are set to start with Namibia amongst the 36 participating teams in the qualifiers due to start in April until June 2020, while the initial tournament of the AFCON is set to take place between 23 November to 1 December 2020.

The Gladiators last participated at the Women Africa Cup of Nations in 2014 when they hosted the event in Windhoek. They reached the knockout stage before they were eliminated 2-0 by eventual winners Nigeria.

Namibia’s participation in the qualifiers will depend on the availability of the funds.

“We definitely have to appoint a coach without any delay. We’re going to participate in the AFCON qualifiers against Botswana. We cannot underestimate Botswana. We are ranked in the lowest bracket in Cosafa alongside Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius and Swaziland, while Zambia, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe are highly ranked. Zambia is a team to watch out for in the near future,” Shipanga said.