What started as just a part-time engagement for Suzie Montsho has now developed into full passion for the game of soccer. She is BFA’s acting Vice President Administration Montsho and is more than eager to make her presence felt. She chats with OTHUSITSE TLHOBOGANG on how she is managing in the male dominated arena.
Q. Have you ever played any sport and if yes what have you played?
I have never played soccer, but have tried softball and tennis when growing up.
Q. Why did you settle for tennis of all other sporting codes?
My thinking then was that tennis was more feminine, but getting to high school, most of my peers played softball, which I ended up trying
Q. As a player how far did you go? Are there any honours you got?
I never made it as a player, because my interests I realised later were elsewhere. I was more into the arts than sport.
Q. When did you become a sport administrator?
I never knew that one day I would be one, as I was doing sports campaigns on an adhoc basis since 1998. I was elected to join the BFA Executive in 2014.
Q. Tell us about what made you go into administration, what did you want to achieve?
I have a selfless and tireless work ethic which drives me to make certain that the association matters are handled. The exclusion of women from sports creates a false image of women as the weaker sex, which leads to our exploitation in all walks of life. I hope to join other women to end discrimination against women and girls in sport.
Q. What made you realise that you have what it takes to become a good administrator?
Having been involved in mobilising sports campaigns locally and internationally, I developed a deep love for the game of soccer. I have developed and enabled strategic investments through sporting activities. This passion has led me to serve as executive member of the Botswana Football Association and expand my involvement.
Q. Since becoming an administrator what positions have you held?
I came in as BFA National Executive Committee member and currently I am acting BFA Vice-President Administration.
Q. There is a very slow growth or improvement in women football even right now. What do you think is the reason for this?
There is lack of professional training available to sports. Cultural barriers also remain, even the word ‘sport’ in vernacular languages translates to ‘play ‘ which can be putting-off others.
Q. Do you think with your advocacy, we will see any improvement going forward?
Yes, I think so. We need to get women in business to mentor people in sport. I believe that women in sport are often detested for their career choices, but working together with business women, we can help change the cultural expectations of women.
Sport has always played an important part in the world. It has overridden political and economic challenges. In some countries, when political issues reach the height of political upheaval, communities use soccer games to bring unity in areas of unrest. Sport brings people together.
Q. What made it possible for you to be at the top committee of football in the country?
I have been involved with sports (football) as far back as 1998, where I was involved in a campaign using football as a marketing drive. I was part of the team that conceptualised what was known as ‘The Supreme Soccer Spectacular ’. I was the driving force behind this cup game until it ended after two years. This was an eye-opener for me to realise that sport can be used to unite and develop people from all walks of life. I want to thank Bra Ashford Mamelodi who kept on pushing me to complete the project at times when I felt it was too much to handle. He instilled a sense of confidence that YES I can make it if I have the determination and support.
On another note I have always been involved with Women’s Affairs, on projects that looked at advocating for women’s rights and recognition in society. During my stay outside the country I never stopped to advance women’s projects. I developed charity projects that used other forms of sport as fund raisers for women and children in need. One other legacy of my works is the Golf project that is played annually in Zambia, on occasion of Africa Day. The success of my sports projects gave me the courage to come and plough back in Botswana that Women are as capable as men, as long as you have the will and passion.
The experience that I possess helped to get the football fraternity to have confidence and bring me at an executive level of the BFA. I share the same aspirations to grow the beautiful game, despite all challenges we might face.
Q. How is working in a male dominated area like football?
I do not find problems in working with men, especially at football, as I do not condone gender discrimination at all. At BFA I have found a home where everyone is treated equally. However, one needs to have a backbone.
Q. What challenges do you mainly face as a female administrator and what keeps you going?
Gender and social issues are still a challenge, highlighted by the majority of teams comprising of men only. We still have divisions, which is something we need to work on, but as a country, not just as an organisation. My dedication keeps me going, and has increased the efficiency and accuracy to which administrative tasks are done
Q. What is your opinion on women’s participation in sport and sport administration locally, is it satisfying?
My thinking is that, lack of female coaches is one reason why there is a lack of female role models in sport. We have a shortage of female coaches even in traditional female sports, which is to do with cultural and social issues. The situation is worrisome.
Q. Apart from sport administration, what else do you do?
I am a marketing and communications professional, currently doing consultancy for organisations in sports and other businesses. I am also involved in community projects in my locality.
Q. How do you manage to balance your other engagements and your role in football?
Being my own boss has allowed me to manage my time to accommodate social responsibility and give back to my community through serving in sports.
Q. Where do you want to see yourself in the next couple of years?
My plans going forward would be to make sure that every child has a place to play soccer. I hope to inspire more girls and women to participate in football and promote career paths throughout the football community. I wish to see myself ascending to administrative hierarchy and create a positive legacy for women’s football.
Q. What do think is lacking in football development and what needs to be done to continue to produce quality players?
The biggest challenge we are facing now is lack of facilities and equipment to give the children a chance to play. We need to develop cutting edge theories and strategies for individuals interested in working their way up in the world of sports. Engaging the business community is vital to improving our competitiveness. Our children need to be given exposure at an early age, to allow better performance internationally.
Q. What is your advice to fellow women who would like to break into sport administration?
My advice would be that they should be prepared to move beyond the dress. Apart from having a vision, one should have the drive, determination and energy to see their goals to fruition, despite all challenges.
Q. There is always time to relax and forget a little about what you do. How do you relax?
I love classic jazz of which I have a big collection of. My quiet moments are spent listening to my music whilst sewing (an art inherited from my mother).
Q. Which book you are reading at the moment?
To tell the truth, I’m not reading any at the moment. I only read when travelling. My time is taken up by researching on ways to develop football. I am currently working on a project which aims directly to impact on the lives of in-school and out-of-school girls as well as women in community-based groups across the country.