Seychelles: Scoring a goal for women in soccer

Date: October 23, 2012
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A ball of energy, the thirty seven year old Elsie Ernesta, has already scored a number of “firsts” for her country and is determined to change the face of football in Seychelles. Inspired by the wide road outside her house to “kick a ball around” while still at school, Ernesta’s story shows why it is so important to challenge gender stereotypes in schools.

The SADC Protocol on Gender and Development requires that by 2015 state parties address gender stereotypes in education. Challenging gender stereotypes broadens the horizon for girls and women, ushering them into sectors and professions that are traditionally non-female sectors.

Ernesta is the first female football coach in Seychelles, as well as the first female coach to train a First Division Men’s Team after acquiring a FIFA recognised “License B” football coaching qualification. The licence qualifies her to coach first division teams. In 2008, Ernesta clinched the national award for the best coach.

Elsie Ernesta’s passion for football dates back to her early childhood on La Digue Island. At school, she participated in athletics and volleyball. But the ‘big wide road’ in front of her house continuously tempted her to kick a ball around and develop a lifelong passion for football. Raised with her two brothers by an aunt after her mother emigrated overseas, Ernesta grew up wanting to be a physical education teacher.

Ernesta faced may hurdles in her quest to become a Physical Education teacher. With no courses in sports on offer when she completed her schooling, Ernesta took a one year course in Tourism at the Hotel School. But she ended up working as clerk for a construction company for nine years. During that time she continued to play football for local women’s teams such as Foresters and Rovers where she went on to win the best player and top scorer awards in 1998.

In 2000, Ernesta finally managed to pursue a BA course in Physical Education in Cuba. She took the opportunity to pursue her passion in football, representing her university as a member of the woman’s football team at the inter-university games. She won the best scorer award.

Ernesta’s passion for football and her training in Cuba has widened her horizons and opened career doors for her as woman in a non-female sector and sport. In addition, Seychelles Football Federation has put in place policies, programmes and a project to actively support the development of women’s football team. Elsie Ernesta has emerged as a great role model and a worthy ambassador for Seychelles women’s football.

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