Namibia: Coleman Calls for Equality

Women footballers should receive the same opportunities afforded to their male counterparts, says Brave Gladiators captain Zenatha Coleman.

Fed up with the system, an undiplomatic Coleman lashed out at the Namibia Football Association on Tuesday, saying women's football should no longer be an afterthought.

Coleman criticised the NFA for not entering the Brave Gladiators and Baby Gladiators in this year's Cosafa senior and u17 women's championships set to take place simultaneously from 5 to 13 November in South Africa.

The NFA cited limited time to prepare the teams as the primary reasons for the withdrawal.

"We have to be realistic about the situation. We all know the impact of Covid-19 and whenever we send a team out, we want them to compete and not just participate. Therefore due to limited time to prepare thoroughly, the FA opted to withdraw from the Cosafa women championships. We can't send two national teams that are not ready," said NFA acting secretary general Franco Cosmos.

Last week he said it made little financial sense to contest the tournaments.

Cosmos said Cosafa asked that each member pay US$50 000 (about N$824 000) in membership fees. This is towards affiliation US$20 000 (N$330 000) and US$30 000 (N$495 000) for participation.

Coleman noted how the NFA is catering for the Brave Warriors to honour their international commitments, but the same charity is not being extended to the women's teams.

The Brave Warriors, who are placed in a bio-bubble, recently travelled to South Africa for a friendly match, and are due to face Mali over two Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches in November.

" . . . we are very disappointed to know that the Brave Gladiators will not be participating in the Women's Cosafa," Coleman said on Facebook on Tuesday night.

"We need to see change. Give the Gladiators the necessary support and equal treatment," the Sevilla forward continued.

"Girls live off soccer. Most do not even work or have schooling. Finding a job is hard, while playing in the national team is the only way to get a little income, and yet you denied them that. A potential professional contract could have been on the table for some of these players, but you denied them this too," she said.

Other than the Women's Super League, which remains grounded since last year, there are no notable competitions for women in the country.

"We are ranked 143rd in the world. It's very painful because we only play qualifiers for Afcon and World Cup, and can't make it through to the next round because of poor preparation," Coleman said.

Aside from hosts South Africa, the seniors' field also includes Angola, Botswana Comoros Islands, eSwatini, Lesotho, Malawi, East African guest nation Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The u17 competition was reduced to five teams on Tuesday, following Botswana's withdrawal, citing an inability to secure the release of players from schools due to final-year exams.

This in turn provides a change of format into a single group where all sides play one another in a round-robin format.

That ensures four matches for the remaining sides, who are hosts South Africa, Comoros Islands, East African guest nation Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The draw takes place on Thursday.

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