OVERCOMING GENDER STEREOTYPES IN FOOTBALL
Since joining the Lesotho Football Association as the District Football Administrator in 2011, Teboho Letseka (TL), has not looked back and continues to grow from strength to strength. The LeFA competitions manager speaks about her trials and tribulations working in a male dominated field.
LeFA: Please briefly tell us about you?
TL: Teboho Letseka is a 33-year-old daughter of the late ‘M’e Mathabo Letseka and ntate Sello Letseka from Lithabaneng, Teyateyaneng in the district of Berea. My journey with football started way back in my high school days at St Agnes, where I used to play as a defender. I didn’t play beyond that level and the journey continued after completing my tertiary studies, where I got the job to work as the Administration Officer for DIFA Maseru. I never looked back and grew from strength to strength as a football administrator. My hard work was rewarded in 2013, when I was promoted to work as the LeFA Competitions and Administration officer. More opportunities followed and today I work for LeFA as the Head of Competitions Department and Club Licensing Manager. I also do the FIFA Connect Registration. My other roles include assisting the A Division Management Committee (ADMACO) as well as the Player’s Status Committee as the Coordinator.
LeFA: Sounds like a lot of work. Take us through your day in office as the Head of Competitions at LeFA?
TL: My duties include coordination of ADMACO and Player Status affairs, giving assistance to the LeFA Secretary General on general operations of the association, registration of clubs, players and officials in the FIFA connect system under close supervision of SG, overseeing of the LeFA club licensing operations and being part of LeFA’s event management operation.
LeFA: How would you describe your journey working in a male dominated world?
TL: Not easy at all. You will face challenges as you try to master a male dominated workplace, but focusing on the positive can help put your challenges into perspective. I think the passion that I had for my job when I started out as a young female administrator helped me a lot. Knowing so much about such a male dominated field makes you feel empowered. With time I was able to settle into the job and worked peacefully. I have also learned a lot in the process.
LeFA: Were you not intimidated when you started?
TL: Of course, the early days were very intimidating. Initially, there was some resistance having to serve over 200 teams as the Administration Officer for DIFA Maseru. It was the first time it really hit me that I was going to have new challenges succeeding among men. So, I had to earn their respect. Females face a lot of challenges while entering male-dominated fields especially building relationships. I had to prove I was one of them, I moulded myself and developed certain qualities to fit in. They accepted me with time maybe because I had proved myself and that I’m as passionate or understand football like them.
LeFA: Would you want to see more females taking a similar route as you?
TL: Yes, we need more female representation in the administration of football and sports in general. I have been conducting club management workshop around the country and I always use such platforms to encourage for more participation of females and not just in football, but sports in general. There are a lot of opportunities in football, and we have a shortage of qualified female coaches, referees, and administrators. I would love to use this platform to appeal to all females, who are passionate about football to always look out for opportunities as LeFA continues to train people throughout the country in all departments of football. I believe that with hard work determination and knowledge for that field, anything is possible. I’m grateful to the Lesotho Football Association for the opportunity to grow as a female administrator and believing in my abilities. I have gathered a lot of knowledge throughout the years working in football.
But I must say, there is a lot of pressure working in football. working with different personalities and having to accommodate them all. Football itself is evolving all the time. We must assist our clubs to comply and meet the requirements especially from CAF and FIFA, which comes with resistance at times.
LeFA: Who are your female role models in sports?
TL: I look up to the Vice-President of the Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission (LSRC) Mrs Moipone Mashale, who is a prominent female adaministrator and has shown that progress starts with awareness that females can be as successful and accomplished as men in leadership roles and male dominated industries. I also admire Ms. Malitsietsi Zwakala, who is part of the secretariat at the Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission. I believe she has grown in leaps and bounds as a young female administrator working in a male dominated fraternity.
LeFA: Did it ever cross your mind while growing up that you will work in a male dominated world to hold such a big position?
TL: Never. I didn’t see it coming honestly, but here I am and have been enjoying every minute of it.