Hany Zada, a member of the Zamalek board, spoke to ON Sport...
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Women’s Football in Egypt: Prosperous, yet unjust
Women’s football has grown so much over the last 2 decades to an extent where more than 5 million females play in the USA alone. The standard of competition has amazed people new in watching the game, especially the last Women’s World Cup in Germany in July 2011 and during the London 2012 Olympics which was won by the United States; narrowly seeing off World Cup winners Japan in front of an Olympic record crowd of 80,203 people. The women’s game has been constantly improving and the standard is getting better. It goes without saying that it is getting more media attention in certain countries worldwide, yet almost all local federations or associations never treat women’s and men’s football with the same respect. For example, this can be seen with what happened very recently with the Women’s World Cup champions, Japan, on their journey to London for the 2012 Olympics. The men’s team traveled on first class while the women were in economy (but upgraded to business class after winning the silver medal). You would think that the World Cup champions would most definitely travel first class but sadly they didn’t, a bit unjust? Maybe. That is the kind of treatment that World Cup Champions get, can you imagine what kind women’s football in Egypt gets? And yes, women’s football is supposedly up and running in Egypt.
A bumpy ride
It has been a bumpy 14 to 15 years for women’s football in Egypt; there is a league, cup, and national team. I’m not quite sure of when the first actual documented league by the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) took place, but then again, I’m not sure the EFA themselves know. Women’s football is an amazing sport that has changed so many female’s lives in Egypt, but at the same time, management and decision making on the sport in the EFA has been very miserable. Ironic much? You see, women’s football is kind of, or solely, controlled by one person that decides to change rules whenever they feel like it. “Why,” might you ask? Credit should definitely be given to that person for actually introducing the sport to our dear EFA and the fight they’ve been putting up for years. Yet, should that give any person the power to monopolize the sport by making it their own and changing the rules whenever they feel like it? I don’t think so, and maybe that’s why officials in the EFA don’t like to spend their annual funds on a sport that is so volatile; a sport that can be changed and its rules according to that person’s mood or feeling.
Yes, I know, some may argue, “what’s wrong with someone controlling the sport?” Well, to start with since countries around us have improved and excelled so much more than us in this short time, we have to ask ourselves why. Why? Well, they have the expertise. They are not afraid to bring in people that know more about the sport than they do, they actually are passionate about the sport itself and not themselves. Most importantly, they have a plan, a plan that highlights what their goals and rankings should be in the next year, and possibly 5, 10 and 20 years later. Do we have that in Egypt? We most certainly don’t. We don’t even have a proper grassroots (5-13 year olds) development program that would build girls for the future and teach them the most basic skills of the sport.
Wishing and hoping!
Amidst all this, the very little funding FIFA gives to women’s development is spread out very unevenly amongst teams, clubs, youth centers and of course the national teams. Shouldn’t we be spending that money on setting up a proper grassroots program to build a new generation that would bring more hope to the sport in Egypt? Or should we use it to work on U-17 girls’ national team hoping to qualify to major competitions in the next two years? Or should we use that funding to bring in an expert that would help us put a proper plan that would help our team qualify and compete in the World Cup in 2 decades? (Wishing and hoping are terms most certainly not used as frequent in any sport’s vocabulary except in Egyptian women’s football.) I really do hope one day women’s football could be able to bring a medal for Egypt or take home an African Cup. Time will only tell, yet the EFA situation is still unclear so that leaves us with plenty more time.
This article was written by a guest author who preferred to remain anonymous.