The outbreak of COVID-19 has taken a toll on football and Ghana’s female national teams were not spared at all.
With the exclusion of the Under-15, Black Damsels, who were yet to start camping, the senior sides, Black Queens, Black Princesses (U-20s) and Black Maidens (U-17s) were all scheduled for various international assignments ranging from WAFU Zone B tournament to FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifiers among others.
Here, the GFA Communications team finds out from the head coaches about training players from home and their readiness for future competitions:
MERCY TAGOE QUARCOO – HEAD COACH, BLACK QUEENS
COVID-19 has distracted the plans I had for the team, by now we should have been in a competition playing WAFU and AFCON qualifiers. The pandemic has brought everything to a standstill but as a Coach, you always need to be prepared at all times
On coaching staff and training program
My assistants and I have formed an informative platform where we discuss how we can build the team and make it successful. We have training schedules for the players on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays although some of the players might want to train on Saturdays with the main training focus is on endurance and conditioning whiles guiding against injuries.
On Injury and recovery
The only benefit derived from this pandemic period is that those that are injured will have ample time to recover while I also keep in touch with the Doctor to see to their health. Currently, all the ladies who travelled to Turkey are aware of how competitive the team has become and want to retain their position by trying hard to keep up. I make them take videos while training, the technical team accumulates all the programme so that we make corrections.
Some challenges the girls are facing currently is that most of them don’t have side jobs and are also the breadwinners of their family so, they live off these allowances they get when they play or travel with the national side. Now that football is at a halt, these allowances do not come in anymore and this has made things difficult for them so I usually advise them on how to manage. Although we are in a pandemic period, I also see it a preparatory period and I believe when CAF/FIFA announces new dates for pending tournaments, I know my players won’t disappoint. I am confident my fellow coaches with the other national sides are doing same but I don’t know how intense their training schedules look like for now.
YUSIF BASIGI – HEAD COACH, BLACK PRINCESSES (U-20)
There is no doubt this global pandemic has hit us hard; we were almost peaking ahead of the U20 World Cup qualifier after returning from an international friendly game in Morocco. Since we left camp, I have been monitoring the players by giving them a series of training schedules to emulate. They perform the exercises in the schedule, video and upload them on their WhatsApp statuses for me to monitor and give feedback.
I usually do the monitoring together with my technical team. Then also after every three days of the session, we organize question time with the goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and attackers where players are allowed to give their own point of view on questions asked.
Motivation of players
I also give video clip exercise for them to emulate as a form of competition for we the coaches to judge the best amongst all. Our Management Committee is also fully aware of all these activities we are pursuing to keep the girls active. I’m confident my players are well motivated due to these engagements with the aim of keeping their shape and physical strength intact. Again, I strongly believe that, they are poised for action anytime we are called back to duty because of the enormous self-motivation.
BABA NUHU – HEAD COACH, BLACK MAIDENS (U-17)
COVID-19 has affected women's football, especially the U-17 team which I'm handling. My technical team and I were able to prepare the team to a certain level. The preparation is in stages and we got to the competition stage where we eliminated Liberia by beating them home and away. We were preparing for the game against Nigeria which was the last hurdle to clear before qualifying for the World Cup and this pandemic came in. Everything has its positive and negative effect. The negative effect is that now the players are on break. Female players are not like their male counterparts where you can use a few days to prepare for a competition. For example, if you take a day to prepare a male player for a competition, it will take a week to prepare a female player for the same competition and so now that we are home when asked to come together today, the preparation will be different.
On team rhythm and player engagement
We cannot find the rhythm as we got previously unless given more time than we had from the beginning; then we can bring the girls up to the same level or even more. Even though they are home, I have given them a special schedule where they train individually with the technical team while I do the monitoring. We have held meetings via zoom with the technical team and another with the players and they were happy about it.
On dieting and monitoring
I was able to put programs across and monitoring together with the medical team. We are concerned with their dieting because what the players eat during this period is very important and must be monitored closely. Once we are asked to resume, we can’t quantify their weight and so we have rolled out programs, ranging from technical to physical and medical aspects and also exercises that are good for the players. They do them and give feedbacks via videos and we watch and do corrections. These are some of the negative effects of the pandemic. Either than that, we should have been in camp, cleared Nigeria and start preparing for the World Cup. As we speak, we don’t know when CAF/FIFA would give us the go-ahead to resume the competition but we are ready for anything that comes up,
JOYCE BOATEY AGYEI – HEAD COACH, BLACK DAMSELS
The national U-15 is a newly created side and the technical team planned nationwide scouting which was approved by the management committee. As we were waiting for the final approval from the GFA to take off with the scouting, the second phase of the U-I5 girls aside football program was also been held in Prampram.
Player selection and justify
Quickly the technical team discussed with the management team and sought permission to be there for monitoring and also to enable us to begin our scouting process since the players were selected from across the country and their ages fell without our category. We selected 38 players to form the nucleus of the team and the plan was that camping begins during the April vacation. Then after, the technical team will travel across the country to organize justifying competitions to select more players. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown did not allow us to start our program.
Currently, the technical staff and management team have kept our fingers crossed waiting for when conditions will be safe for us to get our girls ready for camping. We, however, still need to embark on a scouting tour for selection of more players from across the nation after which they will be put in groups for effective grooming in Prampram or an appropriate venue earmarked by the authorities.
On Training Tour
Negotiations were ongoing for the technical team to travel to at least one advanced country which has practised grassroots football and has succeeded and I believe this plan still holds. The purpose is to enable us to grasp the concept and philosophy of grassroots football and also how it could be developed and promoted successfully. But in all, I strongly believe the U-15 team, being the foundation of all national teams, is enough motivation for us the handlers to work hard. Once things get favourable and the green light is given, we shall put in more work to get more quality players for the senior teams.