Not a FIFA story!
- July 3, 2018
There have been more surprises in the 2018 FIFA World Cup than those given by the United States President Donald Trump during his one-and-a-half year tenure, where everyone is still figuring out what happened. However, this story is not about the Fédération Internationale de Football Association.
This story is about a group of women, who have never touched a football but have come together to kick the ball for charity.
This story is about Mot’seeo.
Lesotho – the motherland of Mot’seeo
In March 2017, Mrs. Mapulane Christine Phohleli Tsikoane, spouse of H.E. Bothata Tsikoane, the current High Commissioner of Lesotho to India, started an all-women football club called Mot’seeo, which translates to ‘kitchen’ in English.
The women’s football club under the Royal patron-ship of Her Majesty Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso of the Kingdom of Lesotho is a non-profit making organization which extends assistance to the underprivileged women’s and children of the society.
The vision is to engage children to challenge negative gender stereotypes and be partners for positive change.
The India Chapter
When Mrs. Mapulane came to India, she decided to bring this social endeavour along with her. Hence, under her guidance, the Lesotho High Commission in New Delhi organised the India Chapter of the women’s football club, Mot’seeo F. C introduction event that was held on Saturday, 30th June, 2018.
The event began 4:00 pm onwards at the Residence of High Commissioner of the Kingdom of Lesotho in Pushpanjali Farms, New Delhi.
Among the guests invited were Dr Shalabh Sharma, ENT Specialist from Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi and diplomats from other African missions in India.
The Mot’seeo F. C strongly believes that sporting activities have enormous power to generate real social, economic and environmental changes as well as contribute to sustainable development, social cohesion and even to change mind-sets and prejudice. The members of the club hope to reach out to women and children using football, to build leadership skills which in the end, will foster self-esteem support positive and healthy decisions.
Excerpts of the speech of H.E. Bothata Tsikoane
‘Nothing excites people than seeing the exchange of visions amongst themselves’
“I wasn’t expecting something of this nature to happen. You can feel for me if you stay with a person of the calibre of my wife, who is as innovative as she is. I was thinking, where is the money for sponsoring such an event going to come from? I am just hoping that after all of you have left, I am not going to be left with a huge bill to pay (laughs).
“But jokes apart, let me take this opportunity to welcome you all here in our humble place.
“I come from a political background. But what is this diplomacy and where did it start? Diplomacy is bringing leaders together to resolve the issues that the world is facing at large. Later on, the term ‘diplomacy’ was changed to international relations.
“Today, everything is centred on economics and wealth. But who are we doing this for? The emphasis should be on the people.
“Then there came another term – ‘People-to-People Relations’ – i.e. doing everything for the people and on behalf of the people. And this event is one such example of people-to-people relations, which is doing things for the people. In as much as we are leaders and diplomats, we want to see peace and economic development. But who are we doing it for? For the people!
“My wife has fulfilled this other aspect of diplomacy, which is to bring people together. Nothing excites people than seeing the exchange of visions, amongst the people themselves.
“Lesotho is a place rich in natural resources and diamonds. You don’t need to tell me about India as I was here from 2013-2016. I went back for two years and here I am back again.
“With these remarks, I want to invite women to come and join Mot’seeo. Let us be innovative and make this initiative a success.”
‘This time our Mot’seeo is the soccer pitch’
Interview with Hon. Christine Phohleli Tsikoane, founder of Motseeo Football Club, and spouse of H.E. Bothata Tsikoane, High Commissioner of Lesotho to India.
- Where did the inspiration for this event come from? And why football?
You know, I have sons who play football. I am the one who is always taking them for practice. I have a daughter as well, who one day came to me and said, ‘Mum, I would love to play football. But is it a sport for boys only?’
Those words stuck with me. I mean it is not a boys-only sport and it can be played by everyone. And then I thought, maybe football is the thing that I can use to address certain issues that surround both women and children as a whole.
That is how the idea came about.
- What is the primary objective of the event? What is going to be the key takeaway?
I have a team back at home in Lesotho called Mot’seeo Football Club, where Mot’seeo means kitchen. The club was conceived in March 2017 and the launch happened in August in the same year.
Since I came here, I decided to have a similar sister team that would work together with the team in Lesotho to bring women together for social reform. Also, the sport itself is enjoyed by women. They feel happy and de-stress themselves. They also play with children and they socialize.
So, I thought it is appropriate to have a good thing and bring it wherever I am.
I am hopeful that women will grasp it for their own fitness and for reforming the children who come from the disadvantaged strata of society. We also go to orphanages and invite children to come and play with us. This is where mentorship comes in. When you play with these children, you get to know each one of them individually, their areas of needs and the issues they deal with on a daily basis.
You also get to know about the challenges of women and slowly but surely you start brainstorming about how we can resolve those issues together.
When you are on the football pitch, it simply just becomes a home without war. There, at the football fields, we call each other by our field names.
This concept, in itself, has been rarely explored.
After we executed this idea, my daughter said, ‘If ladies of this age can play football, so can we.’ Hence, Mot’seeo became an inspiration for her and many others.
- What kind of financial support have you received for this cause?
I would first of all like to say that the biggest support I have received is that from the Creator. The courage to start something on these lines was bestowed upon me by God. Also H.E. my husband has supported me with the idea. He has been there throughout. My family love the idea and they are excited about it. They even come to practise with their friends as well.
The club now wants all the women in the world to experience what they are experiencing. In Lesotho, when we women are sad or angry or when there is any kind of dispute at home, we are always sent to the kitchen to go and fight with the pots.
This time our Mot’seeo is the soccer pitch.