Monika Staab, a German football expert is setting up a competitive system that is aimed at promoting girls’ grassroots football in The Gambia and advocating for gender equality.
The former professional footballer and renowned trainer of several professional football teams, has been working in the Gambia since October 2018. She heads the International Sports Promotion project and is the first woman to serve in a role of this kind.
“My mission is to give opportunities to girls who want to play football. They deserve equal treatment like the boys,” she tells The Chronicle.
“I have realized that the girls in this country are not given the same opportunity as the boys. So we need to change that.”
Monika’s job also involves training of Physical Education (PE) teachers in primary schools across the regions of The Gambia. “Along the way, I involve Physical Education teachers in various schools because they deal directly with the girls. I also teach them about sports and the idea of gender equality which are important values to promote fairness and respect.”
Eight hundred girls across the country are now receiving weekly football training from Monika, a UEFA PRO License holder.
The Gambia has just a few trained female football trainers, and girls are mostly restricted to household chores. Monika has taken it upon herself to change that by creating opportunities for girls to get into football. “In all the regions I visited, I realized girls don’t know about football. All they know and do is be at home to help their mothers. They think they can’t kick the ball,” she says.
“This is because they were not given the opportunity and many of them did well during the first session of the training we had with them.”
Monika is currently working with the Gambia Football Federation in a project dubbed “GFF Grassroot Girls Programme’’ that sets out a vision for school-going girls to double their take-up of the game and ensure they learn basic skills and techniques in football. Monika is hopeful about this project.
“I am so much optimistic that before the end of the year, The Gambia will have a strong football grassroots system that would serve as a springboard to the various female national team categories.”
Born in the German city of Frankfurt, Monika played professional football for top European clubs, including Southampton and Queen Park Rangers in the UK and PSG in France. After retirement, she took up coaching and had coached the national teams of Bahrain, Pakistan and Qatar. In 2014, she was named Germany’s Football Ambassador in recognition of her contributing to the country’s football.