A former international footballer is hoping that studying the FIFA Master course at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) will equip her with the skills to tackle inequality when she returns to her native Africa.
Salome Iiyambo played over 30 matches for the Namibia national women’s football team before later volunteering as a referee and team manager.
She is now one of 28 students who have enrolled on this year’s prestigious FIFA Master course, which consists of one term studying at DMU, one term at the SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan, Italy, and one term at Switzerland’s University of Neuchâtel.
Salome is hoping that what she learns over the next year will help her in her current role as sports development officer at Namibia Sports Commission.
“I would very much like to use this course to advance sport in Africa,” she said. “In Leicester we will be looking at humanities in sport; why do people play sport, why are there inequalities, how can we bring inclusion within the sports that we love so much? It’s going to be very helpful.
“Diversity brings a lot of enrichment and knowledge because what happens in Africa is totally different from what happens in Europe or Asia. In sport we all have the same language and that’s why we are here to learn from one another.”
Salome played for the Namibian team over a nine year period but says that her opportunities were limited due to the lack of development of women’s football in Africa compared to the rest of the world.
“I played over 30 games in a period of nine years,” she explained. “But it was not easy to get international games, the only time you get to play is when you have FIFA qualifiers or Olympics.
“Women’s football in Africa is not quite as advanced as in Europe. But structures are being put in place now and it looks good to compared to when I was playing.”
Her current job as a sports development officer has been put on hold while she completes this course, but she hopes to continue with the role next year.
She explained: “I only started this job in April. In Namibia we have over 50 sport codes. I have handled so many federations including skiing, boxing, football, athletics, para-sports and many others.
“Being the only person responsible for the development of these sports is not easy. The main reason why I decided to apply for this course is so that I can specialise.
“I might only have little knowledge about some sports so that is a big challenge for me, but there is also room for improvement in some of the sports’ structures and the number of qualified people that they are able to employ.”
During their time at DMU, FIFA Master students will examine the birth of modern sport, the humanities of sport, its professionalization and the ethics of sport. They will then go on to study sport management and sport law in Milan and Switzerland.
There are aspects of each element that Salome believes will enable her to advance sport in a country which counts former world champion sprinter Frankie Fredericks amongst its biggest stars but needs a new generation of heroes and heroines to inspire youngsters.
She said: “The law part for me will be great because that’s where the governance aspects of sports come in. I will need to make sure all sports adhere to this because it is a compliance issue.
“The course is international and gives you ideas that you can learn from. Many other nations have already advanced, such as Japan and Korea in women’s football, judo and karate, and other countries in the Paralympics are putting their nations on the map.”
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Whilst working as a sports development officer, Salome has been responsible for educating Namibian athletes about their rights, responsibilities and issues such as doping. However she has been alarmed to discover rife inequality.
She said: “It is really interesting that a lot of athletes have raised issues with regards to discrimination, tribalism and racism. It is such a huge problem in my country right now.
“Being in a black nation, you find that the national team of certain sports codes do not represent the national identity of the people. The elite group of people want to rule sport and that cannot work. There has to be inclusion of an entire population, you cannot have minorities taking over.
“I’m here to make sure that I acquire the necessary skills, tools and knowledge to go back and solve this issue.
“In future when athletes are selected for teams it will be mandatory that my office is present to make sure that trials are held which cover all geographical areas, athletes are all given an equal fair chance and officials are well trained.
“I’m very hopeful that by the time I get back I will have enough resources at my disposal and the knowledge to put things in place.”
Posted on Tuesday 2nd October 2018