It has been all work for Harambee Starlets Assistant Coach Jackeline Juma despite the suspension of all football activities in the country due to the global Covid-19.
The former player, who deputized coach David Ouma to winning the 2019 CECAFA Women Championships, has alongside the coach been drafting plans for their anticipated return as well as monitoring the players’ progress as they continue training in isolation.
This as she savors winning the first-ever senior regional championship, the CECAFA Women Championships, last year. She went on to lead the U17 Junior starlets as the head coach to a Bronze finish at the CECAFA U17 Girls championships in Uganda.
“Winning the CECAFA (Women Championships) was a gratifying experience. We knew we had to win it after posting stellar results in the Olympic Qualifiers. Doing so under tough financial constraints was more than fulfilling,” said the coach.
“It was also one of my best experiences leading the U17 Girls National team. We had a tough time assembling a team under short notice, but thanks to our grassroot tournaments, especially Chapa Dimba, we put up a strong squad and finished third,” she added.
Starlets were scheduled to face Tanzania in the first round of the 2020 Africa Women Cup of Nations Qualifiers in April. Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) Executive Committee, however, resolved to cancel the tournament, in a meeting held on Tuesday, 30 June 2020, via video conference, to discuss the future of competitions and other related issues.
Despite the setback, the team is in line to take part in the next edition, as well as the upcoming regional competitions.
The Starlets have in the past four years remained active in all international competitions, a move that has given a chance to fringe players to showcase their talents. Close to seven players have in the past year joined paid ranks in Europe, out of this exposure.
“It is a teacher’s joy when a student posts positive results,” opined Juma.
“Mwanahalima Adam, Cynthia Shilwatso, Elizabeth Katungwa, Esse Akida, Corazone Aquino, Ruth Ingosi, and Annette Kundu are some of our success stories. They have been scouted into the best leagues in the world, and we hope that we can be able to churn out even more talents,” she added.
“If we have a stronger Women Premier League, and put more emphasis on the grassroot tournaments like Chapa Dimba, then we can have a vast pool of talent from which to select players to the national team. We are not short of talent, we just need to expose the talents more,” she added.
With the increased investment in women football by FKF, coupled with the introduction of the CAF Women’s Champions League to be launched in 2021, Coach Juma sees even better prospects in the coming years for women football.