Joel Omotto @omottojoel
“They received a walkover after their opponents failed to turn up.” This is a typical line in many sports pages in Kenya and indeed in Africa about women’s football.
In Europe, such stories are unheard of. The key word is investment. Europeans stick to basics and one cannot hear of hurriedly-assembled teams to take part in a league or national team duties. Take for instance Bayern Munich women’s team.
Its parent club Bayern Munchen (the famous Bundesliga giants) put up a 70 million Euro (Sh8 billion) state-of-the-art Youth Campus two years ago that serves as a breeding ground not only for the men’s team but also for the women.
At the Campus, there are modern training facilities, a restaurant with well-trained chefs (diet is important in football development just as training), eight training pitches, gyms, sauna and hostels that house the players and a 2,000-seater stadium (10 times better than City Stadium) which hosts all the youth matches.
While at the campus, the players are taught everything they need to know about football at a very young age without any external distractions while the good ones graduate to the next age group until they are good enough to feature in the senior team, the Bayern Munich Women’s side.
With that in mind, it is not hard to understand why Germany or European teams dominate global women football championships. The giant strides made in Germany have seen the influx of players from around the world into the country to develop their game and feature in the lucrative Allianz Frauen-Bundesliga (Women’s Federal League).
Victoria Schnaderbeck is one such player. The 27-year-old defender left her native Austria as a 16-year-old to realise her dreams in Germany and she does not regret it. “The society is open for women’s football in Germany which is good and that is why I had to leave Austria as a girl to develop my career,” says Vicky as she is commonly known.
Through the eyes of Schnaderbeck, investment in infrastructure and youth is the only way Kenya and by extension Africa can improve women’s football otherwise they will keep walking home empty handed from major tournaments.