Feature: Women football takes shape in eastern, central Africa
14 September 2016, 19:00
Jinja (Xinhua) -- Clad in their yellow jerseys, Rwanda's national women football team took on their Tanzanian counterparts Kilimanjaro Queens on Monday in the eastern Ugandan tourist town of Jinja.
It was a tough game as the Queens brave the scorching sunshine to beat the equally strong Rwandese side in the ongoing first ever regional women's championship.
The tournament signifies Women's football breaking away from always playing second place to men's football.
"In our playing days we did not have this tournament and it was difficult to discover how good our team was. We only played once in two years and it made us feel useless because of lack of enough playing time at competitive level," Magida Nantanda, Uganda's head coach told Xinhua.
Nantanda, who previously featured in Uganda's national women team, Crested Cranes, said women football can no longer play second place.
The tournament is held under the auspices of the Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA), a regional football governing body.
Teams from Kenya, Burundi, Zanzibar, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda and hosts Uganda are tussling it out.
Nicholas Musonye, Cecafa Secretary General told Xinhua in a recent interview that the region wants to emulate West Africa where women football is very competitive.
He argued that although the development of women football like many other sports face financial constraints, Uganda taking up the initiative to host the inaugural tournament is a good signal.
Moses Magogo, Uganda's FA President urged other members to have collective efforts to boost the development of women football.
"We realize football lacks lots of support from stakeholders but we need to start from somewhere and in Uganda we already have the Women's League and also want to encourage other Cecafa member nations to do the same," Magogo said.
On the pitch, the women players are showing that they are taking women football to a higher level.
"We are happy to start the tournament with a win although my defenders did not play so well in the first half," Tanzania's coach Sebastian Nkoma told Xinhua after the game. Grace Marie Nyinawumuntu, the Rwanda coach said despite the loss they will work hard to try and win their second game against Ethiopia.
The tournament continues on Tuesday with two games on card. Burundi, who walloped Zanzibar 10-1 in the opening match, will face Kenya's Harambee Starlets in the first match before hosts Uganda Crested Cranes battle Zanzibar in the second game.