For the first time in its history, Togo took part in the TotalEnergies Women’s Africa Cup of Nations played in Morocco. The coach of the Lady Sparrowhawks gives us an overview of the tournament and talks about several aspects of the game.
CAFOnline.com: What sporting assessment do you make of Togo’s first participation in the WAFCON?
Kaï Tomety: The results are above average. Of the three games we lost two games and drew one. However, our game has greatly improved. The effectiveness of the players on the field and the performance greatly improved during the matches. We have no regrets.
CAFOnline.com: Do you think the team could have done better?
Kaï Tomety: We could have done better if we hadn’t lost our opening match against Tunisia. Even a draw could have boosted the minds and morale of the girls. We missed the start of the competition and that had a big role in what followed.
CAFOnline.com: Participating in this WAFCON changed the perception of Togolese women’s football? Have you seen any changes since your return?
Kaï Tomety: Yes, this participation has considerably changed people’s perception of women’s football. We saw that on our return home. The public have grown more interested in matches as more and more fans come to watch the local women’s league matches. There is also more motivation from the players who play club matches. I also notice that in the private initiatives of tournament organizations, we see more women friendly matches for young girls.
CAFOnline.com: One of the objectives of this WAFCON for Togo was for the players to catch the eye of other top clubs. Afi Woedikou has changed clubs so are you optimistic for the other girls?
Kaï Tomety: Any competition sells the image of the players so that they can improve further. Indeed, Woedikou, following her performances, will play at Racing Club de Strasbourg in France. Amiratou N’djambara and Odette Gnintegma also changed clubs. Then I know that four other players are talking about new destinations. It is also that participating in a competition like the WAFCON can change your career or give it a better meaning. With that, we can say that this participation was positive.
CAFOnline.com: Does the level of the league in Togo allow you to have a very competitive team in the coming years?
Kaï Tomety: To have a competitive team like some of the sub-region, we will have to raise the level of our championship. We have to manage to categorize the leagues so that the seniors have their competition, that the U20s play among themselves as well as the U17s. If we only have one competition for all categories, that distorts the data a little bit.
CAFOnline.com: After tasting the WAFCON, Togolese want to return to the tournament. Is this the goal for 2024 and how do you think you can achieve that?
Kaï Tomety: It’s very interesting to play at this level. We learned, we learned a lot of lessons and it changed the way we think and work. From now on, we will put in place a work strategy. We have a database of selectable girls from the league. And while waiting for the resumption of the season, we will need training camps and set up friendly matches during FIFA dates to keep our core and have competition before future official matches.
CAFOnline.com: What would be your advice for the federation to make girls in Togo even more competitive?
Kaï Tomety: As I mentioned above, we will have to organize the senior championship, a division two championship for the U20s and also hold a competition for the U17s. We must also start with a policy at the U15 level. This is because in women’s football as it is in men’s, you have to start early to have real success.
CAFOnline.com: You were one of the rare female trainers at the head of the national team in Morocco. Like in Togo you see a lot of male coaches as head of women’s teams. What is your preference? A man to train the women or a woman to train the women?
Kaï Tomety: I prefer a woman to coach a women’s team. Beyond everything that happens during training, the feeling of the players is an important element in terms of results for a women’s team. The male body is different from the female one. When a woman (preferably a former player) trains girls, there are feelings when we set up exercises or activities, which men cannot perceive the female sensations. Especially in terms of fatigue and pain, men do not experience this to the same degree as women. Another important thing is the management of menstruation. This is a very important element for performance and results. When a man leads the girls, the latter are unable to confide in their male coaches and this creates problems of atmosphere and cohesion. When a girl is on her period and you set up some intense workouts, she won’t be able to do it, or she’ll either cheat. Her trainer will think she is being lazy and that can lead to arguments. If it’s a woman next door, she understands menstruation, the woman’s mood during this period and adapts her training accordingly. That’s why personally I prefer a woman to coach a women’s team.
CAFOnline.com: How do you get more women into coaching in Togo, for example?
Kaï Tomety: This will require awareness. There are many former players in Togo who left the world of football because they did not see a future in football. Today, this participation (WAFCON) has changed the perception and some are returning to the game because of this motivation. And I think today it is the turn of our federations to encourage these former players to go to the clubs and have a role. They have played football and know the discipline. They should be training the next generation now.
CAFOnline.com: From a general point of view, how was the level of this WAFCON?
Kaï Tomety: This WAFCON greatly improved. The indicative is that there were not as many river scores as in the past, especially in the group stages. All the teams showed what they were capable of – even the debutantes. This shows once again that the future will be brighter for women’s football in Africa.