No need to treat women’s teams differently

By John Tuerijama

THE Namibia Football Association (NFA) Head of Women’s Football, Jacky Gertze, has echoed the call by the Minister of Sport, Youth and National Service, Erastus Uutoni, to afford equal treatment to the country’s national football teams.

Uutoni made the plea during the Skorpion Zinc NFA Women’s Super League award ceremony held at the Nampower Convention Centre recently.

In an interview with Confidente, Gertze said she was 100 percent in agreement with the call by the Minister of Sport to end discriminatory remuneration between the men and women’s national football teams.

She said people should not misunderstand the issue and that when teams are competing in the same tournament, such as the Council of Southern African Football Association (COSAFA) Cup, the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) or the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) World Cup qualifiers, there is no logical basis for inequality in the amounts paid to players.

Gertze said the level of competition at the above-mentioned are the same and there is no difference in terms of the opportunity. “I am looking at equal treatment, thus giving both sexes what they need to succeed. I know that there are levels of competitions that are not same, but for events that are the same, like [AFCON and COSAFA], the support system in terms of preparation – whether it is from government or the association – must equally attend to the needs of the national teams.” She said women footballers equally give their best to succeed and must be given everything possible to be successful, just like their male counterparts. She argued that the Brave Gladiators is the only national team to date that has beaten a team on the continental level when they beat Zambia by 2-0 in the African Women Championship hosted by Namibia in 2014.

“We have professional players based outside and footballers benefiting from scholarships. How can we have national teams representing a country internationally with different playing gear, which is unfortunately the situation in Namibia,” she asked.

“I have made that call. In fact, it is not a new call I made it to the NFA that we cannot have different playing gear as national teams and here we have seven national teams whose clothing identity is different. That is very embarrassing. It shows that there is a division.”

“I wholeheartedly support the minister in that football does have the same needs in terms of logistics, remuneration, playing gear and technical committee make-up. I have taken the matter up with the NFA Normalisation Committee. However, I must thank Skorpion Zinc, UNICEF, GIZ and FIFA for their tremendous contribution in getting women’s football off the ground.”

Gertze argues that there is definitely economic inequality between men and women players and that has caused some women to feel inferior, not just economically but also in their social status.

“I blame government and the corporate sector for treating women differently and not just women footballers, but women athletes, hockey players and so forth. They (women athletes) feel degraded because of such treatment when one looks at income.”     

She called for better treatment and do away with unequal distribution of resources to advance their cause and improve the standard of women’s football.

Asked about the Brave Gladiators’ budget for the upcoming COSAFA Cup in Port Elizabeth, South Africa   she said a budget was submitted to the NFA NC and that is currently with the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC).

With the Brave Gladiators having kicked off preparations some six weeks ago she expressed satisfaction with ongoing preparations, although players are commuting from home.

“It would have been a thorough preparation had all our players been at one central point. I am happy that we have been given event-based coaches and that our foreign-based players will join the training camp during the course of the week to have a complete team.”

Both the Brave Gladiators and the national under-20 football teams will travel to South Africa, with the under-20s scheduled to compete in the first-ever COSAFA under-20 Cup.

“I am happy with the training camp and we do provide the players with a three meal course per day. Yes, generally I’m happy and both teams have had friendly matches and I expect the Brave Gladiators to upset Botswana, although I anticipate a tough encounter against Zambia. The objective is to top the group or alternatively end up as best runners up of the competition to progress beyond the group stages.”

She hoped the team would do well and get a chance to be scouted and said the longer they remain in the competition the better their chances of being recognised for their talent and skill.

Gertze said that she was very excited about the under-20 national team who will for the first time be exposed to regional competition. She said the under 20 team is more of a graduation side and that she was glad to be building up the young women who will eventually become Brave Gladiators.