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Women football takes shape in eastern and central Africa

By Ronald Ssekandi, Andrew Oryada JINJA, Uganda (Xinhua) -- Clad in their yellow jerseys, Rwanda’s national women football team took on their Tanzanian counterparts Kilimanjaro Queens on Monday in the eastern Ugandan tourist town of Jinja.

It was a tough game as the Queens brave the scorching sunshine to beat the equally strong Rwandese side in the ongoing first ever regional women’s championship.

The tournament signifies Women’s football breaking away from always playing second place to men’s football.

“In our playing days we did not have this tournament and it was difficult to discover how good our team was. We only played once in two years and it made us feel useless because of lack of enough playing time at competitive level,” Magida Nantanda, Uganda’s head coach told Xinhua.

Nantanda, who previously featured in Uganda’s national women team, Crested Cranes, said women football can no longer play second place.

The tournament is held under the auspices of the Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA), a regional football governing body.

Teams from Kenya, Burundi, Zanzibar, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda and hosts Uganda are tussling it out.

Nicholas Musonye, Cecafa Secretary General told Xinhua in a recent interview that the region wants to emulate West Africa where women football is very competitive.

He argued that although the development of women football like many other sports face financial constraints, Uganda taking up the initiative to host the inaugural tournament is a good signal.

Moses Magogo, Uganda’s FA President urged other members to have collective efforts to boost the development of women football.

“We realize football lacks lots of support from stakeholders but we need to start from somewhere and in Uganda we already have the Women’s League and also want to encourage other Cecafa member nations to do the same,” Magogo said.

On the pitch, the women players are showing that they are taking women football to a higher level.

“We are happy to start the tournament with a win although my defenders did not play so well in the first half,” Tanzania’s coach Sebastian Nkoma told Xinhua after the game. Grace Marie Nyinawumuntu, the Rwanda coach said despite the loss they will work hard to try and win their second game against Ethiopia.

The tournament continues on Tuesday with two games on card. Burundi, who walloped Zanzibar 10-1 in the opening match, will face Kenya’s Harambee Starlets in the first match before hosts Uganda Crested Cranes battle Zanzibar in the second game.



Uganda to host inaugural CECAFA Women Championship

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Uganda is set to host the inaugural Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) Women Championship later this week.

Nicholas Musonye, the secretary general of CECAFA, told a media briefing in Nairobi that the tournament scheduled between Sept. 11 and 20 in the town of Jinja has attracted seven teams from the region.

“It is all systems go except for the small issue of the prize structure to be awarded to the winners, and which will be in place before the tournament ends after we finalize with our sponsors,” Musonye said.

The competition will feature teams from Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and Zanzibar who are all drawn in Group A, and Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda who will battle it out in Group B.

“The women have in the past challenged us to give them a platform to compete since women’s football has taken root in the region and we have thrown the challenge back to them and expect a good competition from them in return,” Musonye said.

The CECAFA region has 12 member nations, but women’s football is developed in only seven nations, with South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea all struggling to put women’s football in place.

Uganda made history by becoming the only country on the entire African continent with a national women’s league.

Unfortunately, because of its inactivity on the international arena for over 17 months, Uganda remains among the 40 countries not ranked by FIFA as per the latest women’s rankings released in December 2015.

On the CECAFA front, only Kenya and Tanzania have a FIFA ranking.


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