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Kick4Life chases unbeaten run



MASERU – Kick4Life women’s team are aiming to go unbeaten this upcoming Women’s Super League season and leading their ambitious desires is a seasoned woman coach, Elizabeth Yelimala.

Since 2019, Kick4Life Ladies have only lost one league game which makes their quest probable.

The Women’s Super League regular season is expected to start soon but, before that, the club will be in action this weekend in the WSL Top 4 where they will face arch-rivals Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Ladies in the semi-finals.

It will be the first test of Kick4Life’s credentials and to get them through, Kic4Life will once again be looking to the guidance and tactics of Yelimala who is one of the most respected coaches in the country, not only because she is good at her job, but because she keeps breaking boundaries in the male-dominated field.

Yelimala is the only woman and one of the few coaches at all in the country who holds the CAF A-Licence coaching certification.

She completed the prestigious course in 2016 and while she is proud of her achievement, she says local football needs more women coaches. Yelimala arrived in Lesotho in 2006 from Ghana.

She joined Majantja and has been involved in Lesotho’s football since then.

After spending years with the Mohale’s Hoek club, she left to join Mphatlalatsane and from there she joined Kick4Life as the senior men’s assistant coach and the Old Europa club has been her home for the last eight years.

Yelimala worked in men’s football until 2019 when she shifted to Kick4Life’s women’s team.

“I might have (CAF) A Licence which is good, but we really need women in coaching,” Yelimala says.

“I made a presentation in South Africa where they gave me a topic that asked who should coach female clubs: should it be women or men?” she continues.

“As I was researching, I realised that we really need women in football but many women are scared to come (looking) for work. They feel they will not perform; they feel there is gender bias, there is sexism, they (are called) different names and they are really scared. I went through all the courses with the Lesotho Football (Association) while I was still instructing, and facilitating and I have always been the only lady amongst men,” Yelimala says.

The fears women have when it comes to football are valid, there is gender bias and sexism in football. It does not just happen in coaching but it is across the board and in the media as well. Women are treated differently to their male counterparts.

Being surrounded by men can put women under pressure and women may not be able to cope.

“In that presentation, one of my recommendations was we need to start somewhere,” Yelimala says.

“It will be good if we start by putting women in the club’s technical teams which I believe Lesotho can also do. I talked to coach Thots (Lehlohonolo Thotanyana) last time, I said ‘call me, let’s sit down and discuss when you are ready’ because now we need to put women in technical positions,” she adds.

If there is a bench of five technical members, one or two should be women who will be an assistant to the male coach, Yelimala suggests.

In that way the women coaches will get to learn from the head coach and also be given the opportunity to at least take up the warm up.

Yelimala believes this will build up their confidence.

She says it would also help to have courses specifically for women, even if it is just ten of them in the course so that they can express themselves.

Asked how she has kept it going all these years being surrounded by men, Yelimala says she has always been a tomboy from childhood and was teased about it to a point where she got used to it.

She has become a role model to upcoming women coaches and that motivates her as well.

“What also kept me going was being with the male teams, I was with the teams and they were like my younger brothers, we talked like siblings and they never looked at me as a woman and we don’t listen to her,” Yelimala says.

“When I entered the field with men they listen and they do accordingly so it gave me the hope that if these guys can listen and do what I want them to do then it is good for me to continue to learn to be a better coach for the future,” she continues.

Besides Yelimala, there is Puseletso Mokhosi who holds the CAF B License but she is not active anymore.

There are about three more women who hold the C Licences and a few with D Licences. She is set to remain the only one with the A Licence at least for the next two years as there are no B courses on the horizon yet.

“We held the D License in December for the Region 5 Games, we had about ten ladies that attended, so if we had C now it would be easy to push one or two. The current Under-17 coach we recommended should go into coaching and she is doing well, the Under-20 kit manager we are pushing her into coaching,” she says.

Previewing the weekend’s game against Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Ladies, Yelimala says this will be the first time they step on to the field since they started training five weeks ago.

They will also be without some of their players who came back with injuries from the national team.

Those challenges notwithstanding, Yelimala says they always make the players aware that every game is important.

“Physically the whole team I will say we are not up to where we want to be because we had a number of players with the national team that went to Port Elizabeth and when they came back, we gave them days off,” she says.

“They have been training from March to April till the competition ended so it is advisable to give them that break in order not to allow fatigue to set in when we really need them. They joined us about two weeks ago for training. Frankly speaking we are not where we want to be,” Yelimala continues.

While many would have liked to see Kick4Life and LDF in the final, Yelimala says she didn’t have a preference on who to draw, in fact, she says the team they have always struggled against is FC Stoko.

Tlalane Phahla

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