The first captain of Cameroon’s women’s football team Regine Mvoue says the country needs more facilities if the women’s game in the country is to develop.
Mvoue was talking as Cameroon prepares for its second World Cup appearance.
The Indomitable Lionesses qualified for the finals with a third-place finish at last year’s Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana.
“We need proper infrastructure,” Mvoue, 54, told BBC Sport
“We’ve had a rough time playing the 2019 national championship because there aren’t many stadiums set aside for women’s football.
“Very often we have to tussle with the professional football league who also play national division one and two games on the same stadiums like us.
“At times, we are forced to relocate matches or simply postpone them because we can’t afford to play on rocky pitches in this era.
“The way women’s football is structured in Cameroon isn’t reflective of the country’s reputation as a continental heavyweight “
Mvoue led Cameroon in 1991 when they lost to Nigeria in the final game of qualifying for the first ever Women’s World Cup.
Since the first Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (formerly the African Women’s Championship) tournament in 1998 the Indomitable Lionesses have finished as runners-up three times.
The Way Forward
She feels that despite this relative success the women’s game in Cameroon is not developing at the same pace as the global game.
“There aren’t enough academies dedicated to training women footballers and most of the coaches who opt to do so have no proper training,” she said.
“Some do this out of goodwill but when there are no finances forthcoming they’re forced to abandon the players.”
The former Centre back who captained Cameroon from 1989-1998 also played for Canon Filles, Azur of Congo and Flame Sacré of Cabinda.
Mvoue admitted that things that have changed since she began her career.
“When I started playing football in the mid 80’s, we’d walk for about 10 kilometres from one part of the city to another just to play a game,” she said.
“The pitches were bad – some were very rocky and usually by the time the game ended we had several injured players. Games were mostly exhibitions.
“We didn’t receive medical support and we usually never had any money after the games.
“We played passionately for the bragging rights knowing that winning a game at that period was more important.
“I played top tournaments for free but captaining the national team meant more to me than the money. It’s an honour which money can’t replace”
“Now the players train in better facilities, receive huge sums of money and can afford to go abroad to play tournaments. It’s easier for them to take care of their families and foster their careers”
The World Cup
Cameroon will play Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands in Group E at their second World Cup, which will be played in France from 7 June to 7 July.
Mvoue, who runs a football academy Azur FA and organizes several grassroots projects, feels a good performance in France can help boost the game in Cameroon.
Cameroon will be aiming to improve on their exit in the last 16 at the 2015 World Cup in Canada.
The former footballer turned coach has her own ideas on what the Indomitable Lionesses must do to do well in France.
“Defensively we are alright, we keep possession but we must improve on our finishing,” she says.
“It’s important for coach Alain Djeumfa and his team to play more friendlies – I’m sure the technical staff were able to spot some weaknesses [at a recent tournament in China].
“The more games the team plays, the easier it will be for them to be better.”
“The crux of the issue is we need to invest more money in the game and set up top class structures. That way our national selections don’t have to travel abroad to prepare for tournaments” she concluded.
As well as her contribution to the women’s game in Cameroon her two two sons are both Cameroon youth internationals.
Toulouse based attacker Stephane Zobo and Steve Mvoue who currently playing for Cameroon at the Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Tanzania.