Women’s football, he knows it well for having been one of the precursors in Senegal. Former coach of the Lionesses and present in Morocco, Bassouaré Diaby analyzes the historic performance of the Daughters of Mame Moussa Cissé at the Can.
What assessment do you draw from the participation of the Lionesses of football in the Can in Morocco, with at the end a qualification for the dams of the World Cup 2023?
The assessment should be made normally by the coach and his staff. We came just to bring a bit of our experience, our experience in women’s football. As one of the leaders of women’s football for years and now responsible at the level of the National Technical Directorate, we can say that it has been a very good campaign for Senegal. Even if the minimum objective that we had set, that is to say to qualify the team directly for the World Cup, was not achieved. But still, Senegal showed a very good face and the results show it. Today, we are respected on the continent, at the level of women’s football.
You are part of one of the pioneers of women’s football in Senegal, were you surprised by the performance of this team?
I was a little far from the team anyway. When I first came to Morocco, I was impressed by the level reached, without the competition even starting. When I followed the training and friendly matches behind the preparation phase, I saw that there was something and that we can really do something. Knowing the other countries, we know that Ghana is not present, Nigeria is no longer the thunderbolt of war that we knew, it is an aging team. There was, for me, only South Africa that could be expected. They have a well-developed women’s football policy that starts from elementary school all the way to high school, university. It is a reality there. There is a real policy that is in place there with a lot of teams playing. So I’m not surprised with the results from South Africa. But for Senegal, I saw them coming, from the moment I followed them in the last phase of preparation. This was confirmed over the matches. We could go much further, but I think Senegal had an excellent result in Morocco.
What made the strength of this Senegalese team?
First is the preparation. If we don’t work, we don’t move forward. When we had the team, it was difficult to have so many days of regrouping.
Today, the girls group together for four to five months. We have our centers and the Federation puts more means so that the girls play. Then, we have a bunch of expatriates who we can call on as we want. In my time, there was only Mamy Ndiaye. Now, we have about ten players who play in France in particular, and who we can call on at any time. There is also the fact that at the African level, the teams have been increased. It is no longer 8, but 12 teams that go to the final phase of the African Cup. With also, an excellent organization of Morocco.
In which sector will it be necessary to emphasize so that the team plays a role at the African level?
I think we have to talk about expatriates who leave Senegal with a good level, but unfortunately, we didn’t have the chance to see them play at a very high level. They play, for the best, in the second division. There is a good pack playing in the honor division. So it’s not a level that can make them progress. They need to work harder for those targeted for the National Team.
The result obtained by the girls during this Can should boost women’s football on the national level as well…
Sure ! Besides, before we left there, there are girls who have been contacted by clubs who want to hire them for a professional career. It’s a good thing for women’s football. Then, we have to do even more at the level of our championship. The last element which, for me, is very important, the clubs must be much stronger. Today, we have clubs that are disappearing. A few years ago, it was the Gazelles who were the pioneers, after Médiour de Rufisque who was one of the best teams. All the other teams are struggling to renew the workforce. We have to start doing some basic work. We don’t forget the school, we don’t forget the University. Women’s football must be in these structures where there are a lot of young people to be able to mesh all of this. But also, having a good policy at the level of the National Technical Department (Dtn).
At this level, it is a responsibility of the Dtn, of the Federation, but also of the Ministry of Sports…
In fact, that’s the whole thing. Today, when you take countries like South Africa, it’s from the beginning. Everyone is watching them. There is grassroots work being done. It is difficult to renew staff at club level. This is why some clubs manage to disappear. Then there are two or three clubs that start paying the players. I believe that is a good thing. Unfortunately, the others failing to do so, we find the best players in these clubs. And in the others, there is nothing. People would have to think about all these problems in order to move forward.
Shouldn’t Uassu be the solution to the problem of our sport, especially for women’s football?
In effect. I also see that in the schools, they are starting to hold championships. This year, the Caf initiated a school tournament where representatives of certain countries take part in international competitions. These are all good things. Now, there has to be a good policy so that we can move forward because we have the potential, for both boys and girls.
How to approach this window of dams?
You have to have friendly matches. The work must continue. Make no mistake, it won’t be easy. According to the information, there will be three hens including two of three and one of four. We will have to put the package, continue the work, see if we can have other players who can bring us something. I know that the staff is very dynamic. They will do everything to see how to improve the workforce. It will be up to the coach to make trips to Europe to see the matches.