The situation of women’s football in Kenya
Mejumaa Mwakaramu, from Matuga Primary School, the prize winner of the MTG essay competition about 'Girls & Football' writes in her essay: 'When girls participate in football, like boys, they become famous and get the chance to travel to many places to represent their country. A female footballer will also be treated equal as a boy because she can play even better than male players. If they are trained and become perfect in football, they can participate in international matches and they will be paid just the way the boys are paid.' That is the future as we see it: equal rights and equal treatment for boys and girls. The reality is different.
In a survey that MTG has carried out among schools and clubs in Kilifi County, MTG's catchment area and sport and development organisations in Kenya, it becomes clear that equal treatment is not yet a reality.
- Girls are one third of the Kenyan football population (compared to 8,8% globally).
- 25% of the Kenyan coaches and referees are female (compared to 7% globally for coaches and 10% for referees).
- Girls play relatively more matches and tournaments compared to boys.
That is good news. The number of girls playing football in Kenya is increasing and relatively higher compared to other countries in the world. It means, that, at grassroot level - as we can see here today - there are opportunities for girls to play football, We can also see that girls are ready to take those opportunities.
According to the MTG survey at least 1,1 million boys and girls are playing football at grassroot level without any facilitation from the Football Kenya Federation. Since Kenya has relatively many girls playing football, it is disappointing that we score so low on the FIFA ranking for Women's football as number 138, number last with 40 other teams that haven't played more than five matches against officially ranked teams
The inequality in Kenya becomes clear when we look at the resources available and the media attention for girls' and women's football.
- 23,6% of the resources are available for girls in grass roots football (compared to 4% at national level).
- At grass roots level girls get only 25% of the media coverage (although they have relatively more opportunities to play)
This comes right after the Kenya Women's Football team's qualifier against Botswana when stories came out that the team had camped in the changing rooms at the national sports stadium Kasarani in preparation for their Olympic qualifier.
And also in the weeks when the World Cup womens' football is being played.
How many people know that the Women's World Cup in Canada is going on?
And how much have we seen on the television, compared to the hype round the men's World Cup in Brazil in 2014?
If no media attention is being given, no corporates will ever be interested in women's football and the level of resources for women's football will never increase. Lack of recognition and resources will encourage girls to stop playing football before they even might be selected for the national team.
At least, the fact that the MTG United team under 16 year has won the East Africa Cup 2015 has not gone unnoticed completely. The Daily Nation, Taifa Leo and some of the radio stations have given attention to this great success. The editor of today's Mwanaspoti underlines this when he says 'if we want our country to improve in sports we must award the winners in sports: boys, girls, men and women'.
And that is what we are doing today.