Male coaches have been encouraged to take time to understand the challenges that discourage girls from participating in sports.
The call came during a conference organised by the Kenya Table Tennis Association and Sports Connect Africa.
In a wide-ranging discussion of issues affecting women in sport, various panellists underscored the need for the advancement of the girl child using sports.
“The girl child faces many challenges in their quest to pursue sports. Quite often, religious, cultural, and social practices force girls to keep off the fields. Male coaches must therefore take time to understand them and help them overcome these challenges,” said Dorcas Amakobe, the CEO of Moving the Goalposts.
Conference participants also expressed concern at the high number of Kenyan women testing positive for banned substances compared to their male counterparts.
“The Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya (ADAK) is educating athletes, coaches, and sports stakeholders on clean sports, but a lot still needs to be done,” Amakobe said.
According to the KCB conditioning coach, Mike Shamia, there is a need also to pay attention to the nutritional aspects of the game and align it to the demands of women’s “Women appear to suffer more because of a lack of knowledge by sports stakeholders on the importance of proper management of the athletes’ bodies,” Shamia said.
“An athlete’s wellbeing is about his all-round health and wellness. It is important for teams to invest in psychologists, strength and conditioning coaches, and nutritionists,” Shamia said.
The conference also discussed the role of women in sports leadership and women were urged to take the front row in administration.
The FKF vice-president, Doris Petra, said the role of women in society had changed rapidly over the years.
“Times have changed and women must take the challenge and believe that they are capable. Women in sports must strive to do the right thing and be good at their roles,” Petra said.
While agreeing that the business of sports as a global industry was raking in upwards of $5 billion, the conference called on women to take advantage and get their share of the pie.
“Women are a key contributor to the consumption of sports and more needs to be done to manage their affairs. Women’s sports need to be packaged differently to attract the right kind of sponsors and investment,” said Walter Machio, the CEO of Michezo Afrika.
KTTA president Andrew Mudibo said the organisation would endeavour to stay at the centre of the conversation to improve the plight of the girl child.
“At KTTA, we try to develop the girl child using table tennis, not only in their sporting abilities but also through life skills development,” Mudibo said.