Uganda’s women’s football has been on the rise and one name that become synonymous with the ladies’ game is Ayub Khalifa. Khalifa is a coach who has mentored hundreds of female footballers, some of them, the best this country has ever seen.
Khalifa is a seasoned professional with an impressive track record of elevating female football teams to new heights of success. With over 24 years of coaching experience, Khalifa has brought a unique blend of tactical expertise, motivational prowess, and a deep commitment to fostering individual player development.
His coaching philosophy centres on creating cohesive and empowered team dynamics, emphasizing not only on-field prowess but also off-field camaraderie and sportsmanship. Khalifa’s ability to inspire players to unlock their full potential has led to remarkable turnarounds and championship victories.
Khalifa’s coaching journey is marked by a dedication to promoting inclusivity and empowering young female athletes to excel in the sport. His strategic approach to training focuses on honing technical skills, tactical awareness, and instilling a winning mindset.
In a recent interview with Daily Monitor, Khalifa was described as a serial winner and a revered personality in the women’s football circles. The Kawempe Muslim and national U-20 team coach boasted of a record four topflight league titles in the last seven years.
How it started for Khalifa
Achievers always have mentors who allow them to see the hope inside themselves. As for Khaifa, he started engaging in ladies’ football when he joined Kawempe Muslim SS in 1999. There were two girls – Sarah Kabanda and Sumaiya Mayamba – who loved playing football so much and they were very good.
He said they used to play with boys and even requested to feature for the houses they were attached to in the inter-house games. Their involvement inspired a rule that every house had to field at least one girl in their team.
Overcoming religious restrictions
Eventually, Khalifa said the number of girls playing football grew. The school started training a girls’ side. However, it wasn’t easy for Khalifa because the school was Muslim-founded, with strict religious principles and there was a lot of resistance.
“After the games, four girls were admitted to university on government scholarships after adding the four points given through the sports bonus points scheme. Another six benefitted the following year. That changed everything. We were ranked among the best schools that took girls to the university, he said.
According to Khalifa, this changed the mindsets of the colleagues who were initially opposed to the idea. It also encouraged many girls to join the school and play football.
Easy to appease, easy to annoy
Khalifa says it is a bit easier to motivate the girls than the boys. The small incentives given to the girls according to Khalifa make them perform to expectations and beyond. This is not the same for the boys; their expectations are a bit higher.
He cited an example when the Fufa President Eng. Moses Magogo came to visit them, and as he thought the girls would ask for a lot of money, they only asked for ice cream.
However, Khalifa clarifies that it’s not very easy to handle girls. “As I have said, a small thing motivates them; relatively a small thing switches them off. You can leave here laughing and the next minute you hear one of the girls crying. They fight over small things, he says.
According to Nile Post, some of the girls that were mentored by Khalifa at Kawempe Muslim include Shamim Nakacwa, Sandra Nabweeteme, Hasifa Nasssuna, Juliet Nalukenge, Ruth Aturo, Tracy Jones Akiror among others. All playing for the national team, the Crested Cranes.
Tasting national team glory
With the junior women’s team, Khalifa bagged a U-17 COSAFA gold medal in his debut month in September 2019. He also almost guided the team (U-17) to the World Cup but COVID broke out with the side yet to play a final qualifying match.
Ayub currently doubles as coach of the women’s U-20 national team where he is doing a good job.
2001 to date – Head coach, Kawempe Muslim
August 19, 2019 – Head coach, September 1, 2021 – Uganda Women Under-17
September 2, 2021 to date – Head coach, Uganda Women Under-20
Airtel-Fufa women’s football Coach of the Year – 2019
National Secondary schools games (girls’ football) winner – 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2019
East Africa Secondary Schools games (girls’ football) – 2012 & 2019
Fufa Women Elite League champion – 2015, 2015/16, 2016/17 & 2017/18
Cosafa Women’s Under-17 Champion – 2019
Cecafa Women’s Under-17 Champion – 2019
Record with National teams
2019 Cosafa Women U-17
Sep 20: Uganda 1-1 Zambia
Sep 22: Uganda 11-0 Mauritius
Sep 24: Comoros 0-20 Uganda
Sep 27: Uganda 12-0 Botswana (S. Final)
Sep 29: Uganda 2-1 S. Africa (Final)
2019 Cecafa Women U-17
Dec 9: Uganda 4-0 Burundi
Dec 12: Uganda 11-0 Djibouti
Dec 13: Eritrea 0-10 Uganda
Dec 15: Tanzania 1-1 Uganda
Dec 17: Uganda 2-0 Kenya