Burkina Faso head coach Pascal Sawadogo has discussed his journey in fighting for gender equality that aims at uplifting women.
A teacher of physical education and sports by training, Sawadogo was in charge of the national team that participated in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco, but were eliminated in the group stage.
Sawadogo explained what prompted his decision to undertake the initiative.
Sawadaogo told CafOnline:
There is an expression that I particularly hate: behind a great man hides a great woman.
It’s time to stop thinking like this. The place of the women is no longer – and is not behind – but next to the man.
I would like it so much if even one of my players is the showcase of women’s sport in our country. I would like them to get professional contracts, to play in the biggest leagues, because they deserve it.
The tactician started the Sparks of Faso academy which helps to nurture talent in the country.
During my classes, I had already spotted a few girls who played a good level of football. It was just missing a structure.
The Sparks of Faso function as a system of sport and studies. Girls must be in school or have obtained a diploma to be considered to further their football careers.
To have the participants concentrate not only on their studies but also on football, Sawadogo revealed the measures he has put in place.
The tactician continued:
It’s a kind of blackmail that I put in place.
If you want to play football, you want to be in the team, you have to have at least the average. And I see that it works.
They study and succeed in their school career, even parents become more docile, they let their daughters play.
After failing in their initial push to partake in WAFCON, Burkina Faso finally qualified when CAF expanded the competition to 12 teams.
We can only rejoice in this decision. Our first match in the tournament, being the opening match against Morocco, was warmly received in the country.
It was the perfect timing. From that first game, we showed what we were capable of, and we received encouragement from the nation at its highest levels.
This WAFCON has brought us a lot. You know, most of these girls don’t even have national identity cards or passports. Thanks to their selection for this tournament, they have started the administrative procedures to obtain these documents.
For others, it was the first time they flew, I can tell you that they enjoyed the experience very much.