Marked progress in the country’s female football ranks

By David Stephens

Hailed as a global game, Football has not just transcended boundaries of race, religion and nationality but also gender, a fact attested to by the ever increasing popularity of women’s football. In a bid to further strengthen women’s football in Asia, world football governing body FIFA organized a ten day regional coaching course last week in Sri Lanka.

It was attended by 26 coaches representing nations throughout Asia such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, along with Sri Lanka.

As host nation, Sri Lanka was bestowed with the privilege of presenting four coaches to participate in the programme, which ran from 20-26 September, while the other countries only had the option of sending two coaches. Our four attendees were Shanika Rajapaksha, Surangika Palihakara, Pushpa Ekanayake and Padmakumari Withanage.

The instructors and consultants who conducted the course were just as, if not more diverse than the pupils they had travelled to teach. The Course Leader Belinda Wilson was an Australia, Course Instructor Monika Staab a German and Course Consultant Valery Chukhriy, a native of Russia.
The triumvirate was joined by Asian Football Federation (AFC) Representative, Youn Bo Kyoung, in their mission to aid the development of women’s football in the region.

“Throughout the course we taught them a range of subjects essential for the sport, like analyzing the game, team tactics in defence, the latest trends in women’s football, and nutrition. All of the participants were very receptive and did really well,” Ms Wilson explains.

She goes on to further elaborate on the effectiveness of each of their contributions in communicating every individual aspect and nuance of the modern game to a region blessed with immense talent.
Ms. Youn reaffirmed the AFC’s determination towards developing and promoting the game for women in Asia, and spoke about the junior football festivals her organization had helped staged and was hoping to continue staging in Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile the group’s German instructor, who has been to Sri Lanka twice before for previous such football festivals and programmes, says she has noticed a marked progress in the country’s female football ranks.

“I saw and continue to see a lot of keenness for the sport from women in this country. Especially in schools here, where the girls are already playing football,” reveals Ms. Staab.

Mr. Chukhriy asserted the importance of communication, a requirement which made his Russian speaking presence invaluable owing to the fact that a sizable segment of the participating coaches came from Asian countries previously a part of the Soviet Union.Ms. Wilson while commenting further on her Russian colleague’s point, says, “There is diversity in each country, and each country will have its different tradition and different understanding of the game. So it is important to adapt, to overcome these difficulties and bring out this uniqueness.”

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