Women’s football, dream or nightmare in Ecuador?
The different categories of the Ecuadorian women’s football team have had a shady start. The bad results of the South American Under 20 that was played in the country.
The South American Under 17 that took place in Argentina and the Copa America in Chile for the senior category are the proof that women’s soccer is not on the right track. In the three tournaments, the women’s Tri played 11 games of which they won only one, tied one and lost nine. It received 31 goals and scored 11.
Beyond these numbers, what is going on in women’s football in Ecuador and who is responsible for the fact that the process was stopped several years ago?
One of those responsible for the fact that the development of our women’s game is not growing is you, yes, who is in front of this text. I ask you, do you like football? I am sure you have never attended an Ecuadorian women’s championship match.
Fans have a leading role in any sport and this is also a problem in men’s soccer in Ecuador, fans are away from the stadiums. In the ladies’ games, friends or family members of the players go to check on them, the rest of the public does not attend.
Another part of the responsibility is borne by the sports press, which has made no effort to cover what is happening in the world of women’s football. The importance given to it is minimal and even non-existent in some cases.
Just to give an example, not even the company ‘El Canal del Fútbol’ that bought the rights of the Ecuadorian Women’s Championship broadcasts all the matches. How many journalists go to a weekday coverage of the girls’ training sessions, how many broadcast the official matches? Without going any further, in the Copa América that is taking place in Chile, there is only one Ecuadorian journalist, Belén Quinatoa.
But there is something else going on, and that is that women’s football needs training in: strategists, players and leaders (of the Ecuadorian Football Federation and the clubs). Not only about football, but also about women’s behaviour in the sport, the human being, sports psychology, methodologies in the process of teaching and learning. Our football needs to invest in knowledge.
Ecuadorian women’s football must be professionalised, but this is not only the work of the FEF and Confa (Confederation of Amateur Football), the commitment lies with the leaders of each institution. The clubs must take the first step.
Who is in a position to invest so that women players are fully dedicated to football, i.e. that women have a salary in order to focus all their attention and commitment on football?
Today there are young people who study, work and have to train, generally two or three times a week, very few of them do it every day, this without mothers, or single mothers who have to be present at home, with their children, study, work, and of course train. It is almost impossible to demand results.
Many clubs will say that the Ministry of Sport or other bodies must fund women’s football. They did at first, when José Francisco Cevallos was in charge of the state portfolio, but projects must be self-sustaining. A project must be created for our clubs and it must be able to be sold through marketing strategies, acquiring members, ticket sales, sponsors, among others.
About the sponsors a debate is generated. Public and private companies do not support the sports projects of women football lovers. What happens is that a brand would never invest in a tournament, club or project that is disorderly, unstructured and without results.
If it’s true that Amilcar Mantilla is the visible image of women’s football in the country, you can’t throw stones at a person who, as far as economic and management possibilities allow, is trying to cope with a sport that has structural problems, and which also continues to fight with a macho society.
Mantilla proposes a series of aspects for the well-being of the tournament, but which go unnoticed by Ecuador’s professional clubs themselves. One of them is that the Ecuadorian women’s championship matches should be preliminary to the official men’s games.
But the men’s teams are too busy to collaborate and at least advise women’s football, despite Conmebol’s mandate to professionalize women’s football. The clubs must have a women’s team, or at least ally themselves with one, otherwise they cannot participate in Copa Libertadores, Copa Sudamericana, or any event organized by Conmebol from there.
Complaints are constantly being received from club officials about the staff working and managing the development of women’s football. The clubs call Confa and the institution is not clear about the budgets for the teams in: transportation, number of meals, they do not know where they travel, and the processes are not streamlined. It is difficult to plan and manage each date or tournament immediately.
Added to that is the little information in the budgets that is delegated each year to women’s soccer, how much does Conmebol send, how much does the Ecuadorian Soccer Federation have, how much is left of the 2017 broadcasting rights that were signed for USD 60,000? The teams have not received a single penny of what has been offered. Where are these items being directed?
The income delegated by the South American Football Confederation goes to the FEF’s direct accounts. Two years ago, Confa had the administration of these items and they were managed by Diana Quiñonez, the financial chief.
Today there are debts such as: USD 8,000 to the transport company that transferred different teams from Pichincha in the first stage; no payments have been made for vocals, dressing room expenses, among other aspects. They even offered to dress the teams in this with a sports brand sponsor, but that offer was not fulfilled either.
So women cannot be underestimated, let it be clear that they are not being done a favour by complying with such proposals. It is the duty of each area and staff to work on the welfare of women’s football, the house must be tidied, cleaned, arranged and new structures created.
We’re all part of this hard moment where we’ve failed at national level with a tournament that’s been delayed for four months and it’s only in April that the second stage is played. And that reflects what’s happening at international level with bad results, goals and negative numbers.
The maturity and rebelliousness for the change must begin, the players already did it in Chile facing with honor, with courage of their own mistakes, enduring criticism and insults of this bad management. Now it’s your turn to stand up for women’s football in Ecuador, with the same courage, the same honour and by being strong in the face of criticism or reprisals.