Women’s football in Uganda started way back in the early 90’s with girls and women playing the game for fun. The game was scanty and there were no defined structures as compared to today.
Girls and women would competitively play against the opposite sex to create competition.
Mrs. Kazibwe ‘Mama Becca’ Rebecca (RIP) and Mr. Paul Ssali are the founding members of women football in Uganda. Ssali was Uganda Cranes goalkeeper in 1978, the last time Uganda appeared at the Nations cup finals.
The then National senior team, the She- Kobs (Now Crested Cranes) would be hand picked due to lack of defined competitions.
A national league was started in the mid 90s but suffered natural death due to various challenges inclusive of sponsorship.
The National team played its first international match in Nairobi Kenya in 1994.
The first qualification attempt for the Africa Cup for women was in 1998 when Uganda hosted Egypt at Nakivubo Stadium and drew 1-1 and lost to Egypt 0-1 away.
The tournament in South Africa (2000) where Uganda emerged 3rd , beating Reunion 3-0,drawing 2-2 with Zimbabwe and losing 0-2 to the hosts was an eye opener to most Ugandans and many fans as they reignited their in women’s football.
Schools and other women teams started to play the game.
On the third attempt, in the Africa Women Cup; Uganda played Ethiopia over two legs in 2003 unfortunately they were eliminated again on goal aggregate (2-3).
WOMEN FOOTBALL STRUCTURES IN UGANDA
At the inception of the leadership of FUFA President Lawrence Mulindwa (2005-2013), the game gained some progress.
Emphasis was put on grass-root development and coaching education.
Leagues were played at district and regional levels and these were crowned at the inter-districts or inter-regional championships where selection was made for the different national teams.
The number of school girls’ teams playing the game is tremendously increasing because on average, 50 teams participate in the annual national post primary tournament with the best two teams representing the country at the East African Secondary Schools Games.
Schools championships have produced players like Sandra Nabweteme, Hasifah Nassuuna, Asia Nkibuuka, Sawuya Sana and Sanya Babirye who have dominated the scoring charts.
Schools have also played a role in feeding clubs with players.
Under the current leadership of FUFA President Eng Moses Magogo , women regional leagues have been emphasised and strengthened where the FUFA Women Elite League was started in 2015.
The FUFA Women Elite League has 16 teams in the season 2015/2016 but started with 12 teams in 2015 during the premier season.
Women football coaching and administrative seminars and courses have been conducted to take women football to another level.
Participation at international level
The Uganda U20 team participated in the 2009 World Cup qualifiers Germany of 2009 and beat Rwanda 2-1 at home and drew 1-1 away but failed to proceed to play in Zambia and South Africa due to lack of funds.
Again, the National U20 faced off with South Sudan in a 1st round World cup qualifier in 2013 where Uganda beat South Sudan 9-0 away and 13-0 at home in Lugogo hence qualifying for the 2nd round. They were supposed to play Egypt but the North Africans pulled out. Uganda’s next opponents was Ghanaian for a the 3rd round action but it was unfortunate the team failed to travel to west Africa due to lack of funds and pulled out.
The Senior national team now the CRESTED CRANES played friendly games in Egypt (2011) to prepare for the AWC(2012). DR Congo eliminated the team on 2-5 goal average.
In September 2013, our U17 girls national team played in the U17 Airtel Rising Stars African Championship, another strong youth structure in Nigeria and Uganda emerged 4th out of 12 other African countries. Our very own lady head coach, Hadijah Namuyanja Mourinho won the best female coach accolade as well as Namutosi Agnes and Lilian Akello were selected among the All-Stars team to represent Uganda at the Arsenal Camp in Rwanda. Thanks to FUFA and Airtel for the sponsorship . It is an annual event which starts at district level, then to the regional level and nationals where an U17 national team is selected for the African championship. This year’s (2014)championship that was scheduled to take place in Gabon, was postponed due to Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Again under the current leadership, grassroots and youth football have been much considered in the Federation technical strategic plan. FUFA applied to FIFA for a grassroots football for both girls and boys. This already is in plan and FIFA, FUFA, Ministries; Local Government and Education & Sports will on 15th sign a memorandum of understanding to officially launch girls and boys football in all primary schools in Uganda for ages 8 to 13. And on 20th September 2014, the launch and football festival for Kampala region will take place at Old Kampala SS grounds.
Three ladies have undergone high level football administration training and the entire women football fraternity has benefited. They are Mrs. Florence B. Nkalubo (former FUFA Executive member in charge of women football), Ms. Kaliga Mariam and Ms. Nambi Loida.
We also have FUFA Women Standing Committee in place which implements the women football work-plan annually. It is headed by Ms. Mariam Kaliga an Executive member of FUFA in charge of women football.
There is a full time employee, Ms. Hadijah Namuyanja who coordinates women football affairs nation- wide at the FUFA headquarters.
FUFA also operates and channels its activities through its structures namely; Uganda Women Football Association headed by Ms. Efrance Nanjego from Eastern region, regions district football associations, where women representation is a must!
Most retired players have been trained as coaches. Currently, we have 5 qualified lady coaches who have attended FIFA, CAF and FUFA coaching courses and have attained among others the CAF C license. All are retired players who have the knowledge, playing experience and expertise in coaching therefore they were appointed to handle the technical matters of the different ladies national soccer teams as seen below.
Senior National team: Ms. Nantanda Majidah(Head coach)
U20 National Team: Ms.Oliver Mbekeka(Assistant), Ms.Christine Nakibuuka Wanyana( Assistant)
U17 National Team: Hadijah Namuyanja (Head coach), Faridah Bulega (Assistant)
Other coaches, both men and women have also undergone training to specially handle women’s football.