Innocent Kurira, Sports Reporter
BEING a male coach in charge of a women’s sports team is no easy stroll. It demands one to shove their pride to the side and be level-headed to do the most difficult of jobs in sport.
The rundown of the everyday life of a male coach in charge of a contingent of women reveals that such coaches are a rare breed. Aside from taking responsibility for handling the job, they possess a character that deserves mention.
Much like any professional task, the job presents its fair share of trials, bearing how society also lays its tainted judgment.
When the game of football opened to women players, it was not easy for some people to accept men as coaches. A season would not pass without whispers of a sexual assault allegation. Last year, women’s football was hit by a storm after several male coaches were accused of sexual harassment. Several female footballers are reported to have been victims of sexual abuse, harassment, and bullying.
Surely it can’t be easy to be in charge of a lady’s team being a male coach. How do those that have managed women’s teams deal with such encounters?
“It’s always difficult. I was fortunate to have a teaching background that emphasises maintaining professional distance between teachers and students. I transferred those skills into coaching the girls.
“Believe me it’s never easy, but I had to exercise restraint and discipline because I had high ambitions. Once you demonstrate these traits you have people feeding from your hands and you achieve great things,” says former Mighty Warriors coach Shadreck Mlauzi.
“Coaching ladies is like being a parent. Personally, when l get a coaching job for a girl’s football team the first thing that l do is to introduce my better half to them and also emphasise that as long as l am their father, not a friend that way we are on the same page and we give each other the respect that is due.
“For me, the key is having your lady known and taking her to matches and sessions if possible to avoid a situation where some girl may have other ideas.
“The other challenge with girls is they may use football as an excuse to leave home while they get on with other things. I have been in a situation where a girl was lying. They were coming for sessions yet they were visiting a boyfriend all the time. Everything only came to light when she got pregnant and the parents were complaining,” said Ayanda Sibanda who has coached Street Set, Inline, and Luveve High School Ladies.
Last year, Bulawayo Chiefs FC took initiative to educate their lady’s team players on issues to do with sexual abuse in sports. The club held an educational workshop for its players, an event which was attended by various sexual abuse educators including the police.
The workshop came at a time when women’s football in Bulawayo has been hit by harassment and sexual abuse allegations at various clubs in the city. The move was applauded by the football community as the club set an example for other clubs. – @innocentskizoe.