KAMPALA, August 20, 2018 – Who is Lydia Nsekera? This was the question the women sports leaders in Uganda’s capital Kampala had ahead of an interactive session with the sports guru at the Uganda Olympics Committee (UOC) offices last Thursday evening.
Nsekera, a long-time member of the International Olympic Committee and the FIFA Council, was thrilled to meet women sports leaders in Kampala, along with former and current football players.
“I am happy to be here and meet so many important figures. Although I will confess, I myself have never at any one time, played football, and for so long l didn’t know the rules of the game,” she said with a laugh. “But l was always a passionate fan of the game,” the Burundi-born explained.
Lydia Nsekera on Empowering women
At 51 years, her passion for football and empowering women sports leaders have always been top of the agenda. “In my home country l created a women’s team that later inspired the formation of more women’s teams through development tournaments.
The initial investment came from my husband to finance the team and competitions, and things grew from there,” Nsekera explained.
“I worked hard to promote women’s integration in football so as to give women a chance to speak,” Nsekera recalled. Each time she was among men in the field her key objective was finding room for the women’s voice.
“We created a statute for women and FIFA welcomed me later on board. In 2004 l was invited to be head of football in Burundi. My husband had passed on in 2003 so it was a challenge going for a position against male candidates the following year but anyway l did and won.
I battled two men for the elections and won, ran the Federation for nine years and left after. But today l still head my founder team,” she added.
Lack of faith
Nsekera, who became the first woman to hold a seat on FIFA’s Council in 2013, explained how much work there is still to do. “We have a problem of integration in our sports federations. In some sports, it is hard to have women cut across due to less faith in women in leadership positions.”
“Football, for example, is believed to be a sport for men and managed by men. So l integrated men in my football club because sports is a way of life. In 2017 I was re-elected into the IOC and my agenda was to put women up there in sports leadership empowerment – to work as a team was my powerful objective.
“One of the biggest problems is that, as women, we also tend to fight each other while up there, teamwork should be the starting point for the growth of women in sports, before women lobby for integration while in administrative offices,” Nsekera added.
Not nearly enough male officials want to develop women’s sports. When women get the chance they must use it wisely to create good governance ground for women’s development – this is another message that came from Nsekera’s talk in Kampala.
Lydia urged women sports leaders to always work together to initiate a great working team and avoid going against each other.
She was flanked by her host Jean Seninde and the Uganda Olympic Committee President William Blick, who has done an excellent job in promoting women in sports to administer governance roles.
The UOC Women in Sports Commission boss Annet Nakamya also shared some of the achievements the commission has chalked through women leadership and mentorship programs in the last four years.
Source: Dorothy Nekesa, AIPS Member, Uganda