40 influential women football executives in Africa

Cover story

On the occasion of the International Women’s Rights Day, celebrated on 8 March, the President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Patrice Motsepe, said that “women play a central role in the future of African football and in the socio-economic development and growth of the African continent”. In recent years, women’s leadership in African football has made significant progress.  Whether they are club presidents, leaders of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), federation presidents, members of FIFA or responsible for the development of women’s football on the African continent, there are pioneering women who are contributing to the advancement of the game in Africa.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of 40 women who have distinguished themselves in football management in Africa. The list is random and the ranking is not synonymous with the importance of one personality over another.

Fatma Samoura (Senegal)

Since 20 June 2016, Fatma Samoura has been the General Secretary of the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), the first woman to hold this position within FIFA. Fatma Samoura began her career at the United Nations in Rome, as head of logistics for the World Food Programme in 1995. She subsequently served as country representative or deputy coordinator for humanitarian operations in seven countries: Djibouti, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Niger, Madagascar and Nigeria.

Doris Petra (Kenya)

Since 2021, Doris Petra has been the President of the Kenya Football Federation (FKF), the first woman to hold this position. Before that, she was the vice-president of the FKF, also the first woman to hold this position.

With a degree in Personnel and Human Resources, Doris Petra worked for Kenya Posts and Telecommunication, now Telkom, from 1989 to 2005.   Thereafter, she moved into football administration and worked as a member of the national executive committee under former Kenya FA president Sam Nyamweya until 2015. She then joined the team of Nick Mwendwa, owner of the first division football club “Kariobangi Sharks”, who ran for the presidency of the FKF and became the first female vice president of the federation. As deputy to Nick Mwendwa, her main duties were to develop football projects and proposals that need to be approved by the national executive committee for implementation.

Kanizat Ibrahim (Comoros)

In March 2021, Comorian Kanizat Ibrahim became the first vice-president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), when she was elected 5th vice-president of CAF on 12 March 2021 in Rabat, during the 43rd General Assembly of the body. She is also the first Comorian personality elected to the CAF Executive Committee and one of the only two women, with Isha Johansen, members of the 23-member CAF Executive Committee.

Before joining CAF, Kanizat Ibrahim was the president of the normalisation committee (Conor) of the Comoros Football Federation (FFC), from November 2019 to 30 January 2021. Her mission was to provide the FFC with new regulatory texts and to organise the election of the new executive committee of the FFC, under the supervision of FIFA. The election of this new committee took place on 30 January 2021.

It is notably under the presidency of Kanizat Ibrahim that the Comoros national football team “Les Cœlacanthes” has achieved a historic achievement which enabled it to qualify for the final phase of the African Cup of Nations for the first time in its history. It is also their first finals in a major competition.

Mariama Satina Diallo Sy (Guinea) 

Mariama Satina Diallo Sy is the president of the Guinean football normalisation committee (CONOR). An entrepreneur, she is the founder and CEO of the “Mondial Tours” group, created in 1994, which includes the travel and tourism agency Mondial Tours, the communication agency Descom, the ecotourism site Les Eaux de Kilissi in Kindia, the Restaurant Africana- Kaloum and Délices d’Africana in Kipé and the Nimba Plus VIP Lounge at Conakry International Airport.

Mariama Satina Diallo Sy is also the founder and CEO of the company Nimba Plus which manages express mail and parcels, air and sea freight, shipchandler, transit, transport and consignment.

Former Minister of Hotels, Tourism and Handicrafts of Guinea, Mariama Satina Diallo Sy is also the President of the Network of African Women Ministers and Parliamentarians in Guinea (REFAMP Guinée). She has also been president of the employers’ association of tourism professionals (APPTOUR) and a member of several associations and employers’ structures in Guinea and internationally.

Jessica Motaung (South Africa)

Since 2003, television personality and former Miss South Africa Jessica Motaung has been a board member and marketing director of Kaizer Chiefs Football Club, South Africa’s most successful and popular club, popularly known by the Zulu language expression Amakhosi, meaning “lords”, and located in the Naturena suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Jessica Motaung is the daughter of Kaizer Motaung, founder of the Kaizer Chiefs club.

Khadija Timera

Along with former Cameroon international Geremie Njitap, Khadija Timera represents African countries on the world governing body of the International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPRO). Khadija Timera is the first African woman to sit on the FIFPRO board and the fourth woman member of the FIFPRO world board. A law graduate and amateur boxer, Khadija Timera first worked in the investment arm of a law firm in Luxembourg, before setting up her own consultancy in Paris for African football players.

Mariam Dao Gabala (Ivory Coast)

Mariam Dao Gabala is the president of the normalisation committee of the Ivorian football federation (FIF), appointed by FIFA. The aim of the committee is to manage the day-to-day business of FIF and to clean up the texts (regulations, statutes and electoral code) of FIF in order to correct the dysfunctions noted by the joint FIFA/CAF committee of enquiry, which should lead to the election of the new executive committee of the Ivorian football federation.

Mariam Dao Gabala is a human rights activist and a senator in the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire.

Isha Johansen (Sierra Leone)

Former president of the Sierra Leone Football Association, Isha Johansen is currently a member of the CAF Executive Committee, CAF’s representative on the FIFA Council and deputy chair of the CAF Women’s Football Organising Committee. Born in Freetown on 25 December 1965, the former president of the Sierra Leone Football Association was elected to this position in 2013, becoming the first woman in that country to hold this office and the third in Africa, after Izetta Sombo Wesley in Liberia (2004-2010) and Lydia Nsekera of Burundi (2004-2013). In addition, Isha Johansen was the first woman to be appointed as a member of the Integrity and Security Committee of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) in 2015. In January 2017, she was appointed as a member of the FIFA Associations Committee, one of the 9 standing committees of FIFA.

In 2004, Isha Johansen founded the “FC Johansen” in Sierra Leone, which is made up of boys aged 10 to 12 years old, with the aim of keeping them in school through sport. The youngsters of FC Johansen have participated in international tournaments in Sweden, the USA and Spain, playing with the junior team of Real Madrid and rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s football stars such as Zidane and David Beckham. She later launched the “PowerPlay 4 football” initiative to empower girls and women through football. The programme also aims to mentor and sensitise them on health, education and politics in a country where female education is low.

Goabaone Taylor (Botswana)

In April 2021, Goabaone Taylor was appointed CEO and General Secretary of the Botswana Football Association for a three-year term. She is the first woman to hold this position since the creation of the association.

With over 18 years of professional business and corporate experience, Goabaone Taylor holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (Marketing) from the University of Botswana, and has undergone a range of professional training in the areas of executive management and development, enterprise risk management and digital marketing.

She has also served as Country Manager of Econet Media and Commercial Contract Manager at Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited.

Céline Eko (Cameroon)

In December 2021, Céline Eko Mendomo was elected vice-president of the Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot), along with Samuel Eto’o, who was elected president. Céline Eko also retained her position as president of the Cameroon Women’s Football League. In the previous committee, she was 4th vice-president of Fecafoot.

Céline Eko was also president of the Yaoundé canon team.

Ria Ledwaba (South Africa)

©Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Ria Ledwaba is currently the first black woman to hold the position of vice-president of the South African Football Association (SAFA). She is also a match commissioner for CAF, since 2014, deputy chairperson of the transformation committee (EPG) appointed by the Minister of Sport, Arts and Recreation since 2013, and a member of the South African Football Association (SAFA) National Executive Committee (NEC), elected in 2013.

Ria Ledwaba is the CEO of Gree Products SA, South Africa’s only black female-owned heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) import company. She is also the owner of the Ifihlile Training Academy, which has been training craft technicians in the refrigeration and air conditioning trades since 2008.

Ria Ledwaba has broken barriers in male-dominated industries, including football. She is the founder of the Ria Stars Football Club, which played in the Premier Soccer League (PSL), the South African football championship. In addition, she facilitated the establishment of the first women’s national league in South Africa, was chairperson of the women’s section of the South African Football Association (SAFA) and served on the board of directors of the Premier Soccer League.

Ria Ledwaba is the recipient of several business and sports awards and received her first Businesswoman of the Year award in 1999. She also received the 2018/2019 Limpopo Provincial Government Excellence Award in recognition of her outstanding contribution, dedication and commitment to her role in football in South Africa. In 2019, she received the Gauteng Sports Awards lifetime achiever award.

Anisha Muhoozi (Uganda)

Since September 2018, Anisha Muhoozi has been the CEO of Kampala Capital City Authority Football Club, a Ugandan first division football club based in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. The club is one of the most successful in Uganda and won the Ugandan league in 2019.

Prior to her appointment as CEO, Anisha Muhoozi was, from 2017 to 2018, the administrative and operations manager of the same football club. She comes from the banking sector, where she worked for 8 years.

Anisha Muhoozi holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University and a Bachelor of Commerce from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.

Bestine Kazadi (DRC)

Lawyer, writer and poet, Bestine Kazadi is the first woman elected president of a football club in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On 1 July 2020, she was elected president of the Vita Club sports association, a popular Congolese football club based in the city of Kinshasa and one of the country’s three biggest clubs, several times DRC and African champions.

Since 2019, Bestine Kazadi has also been the advisor in charge of cooperation and regional integration to DRC President Félix Tshisekedi.

Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi (Uganda)

Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi is the third vice-president of the Uganda Football Association (FUFA), the first woman to hold this position in Uganda. A businesswoman and politician, she is also currently Minister of State for Youth and Children’s Affairs.

Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi has also served as chairperson of Express Football Club, a top flight football club in Uganda.

Sahar Abdul Haq (Egypt)

Dr Sahar Abdel-Haq is a member of the Egyptian Football Association committee, in charge of the administration and supervision of women’s football. In 2012, she was elected president of the Egyptian football club al-Nasr, a first for an Egyptian or Arab club.

Nawhal Khalifa (Morocco)

In August 2021, Nawal Khalifa was appointed deputy president of the football section of Fath Union Sport (FUS) in Rabat, the first woman to lead a first division club in Morocco.

Nawal Khalifa joined FUS in 2008 as assistant treasurer. She was also a member of the board of the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), representing FUS, between 2009 and 2014.

Barbara Gonzalez (Tanzania)

On Friday 04 September 2020, Barbara Gonzalez was appointed, with immediate effect, CEO of the football club “Wekundu wa Msimbazi”/Simba Sports Club (SSC), owned by Tanzanian billionaire, Mo Dewji and current champion of the Tanzania Football League. She thus became the first woman to manage a professional football club in Tanzania.

Barbara Gonzalez holds a Master’s degree in Development Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and a Bachelor’s degree (with distinction) in Economics and Political Science from Manhattanville College (USA).

Sue Destombes (South Africa)

Since May 2012, Sue Destombes has been the Secretary General of COSAFA (Council of Southern Africa Football Associations), a regional football confederation under the Confederation of African Football. COSAFA comprises 14 countries: Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Reunion Island as an associate member

Sue Destombes grew up in Durban and moved to Johannesburg in 1991. She spent the first 15 years of her working life in the insurance industry before entering the world of football in 1994, where she worked for a sports marketing company. This led to her working with COSAFA from 1997, when the company developed and managed the COSAFA Castle Cup. In 2011, Sue Destombes was appointed COSAFA’s Director of Operations, before being appointed Secretary General, following the retirement of the former Secretary General.

Meskerem Tadesse Goshime (Ethiopia)

Since January 2021, Meskerem Tadesse Goshime has been the Head of Women’s Football Development at the Confederation of African Football (CAF), where she has also held several other positions since her arrival in 2017. Most notably, she was the general coordinator of the Marrakech venue during the African Nations Championship (CHAN 2018) which was held in Morocco.

Previously, Meskerem Tadesse Goshime was the deputy secretary general of the Ethiopian Football Federation. In this position, she was responsible for the development of Ethiopian football, the management of national teams and international relations, while also being involved in the day-to-day management of the football federation, in close collaboration with the federation’s executive committee. Within this framework, Meskerem Tadesse Goshime was responsible for the organisation of an ordinary and electoral general assembly. Her position also allowed her to focus on the development of women’s football, a subject close to her heart as a former women’s football coach. Meskerem Tadesse Goshime played for and coached the Addis Ababa University team, with whom she won the university championship.

Meskerem Tadesse Goshime is a graduate of the FIFA/CIES (International Centre for Sports Studies) programme in sports management.

Latré-Kayi Edzona Lawson-Hogban (Togo)

Since October 2017, Latré-Kayi Edzona Lawson-Hogban is a member of the referees’ committee at the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the first woman to hold this position. She is also head of the refereeing department of the Togolese football federation. Previously, she was head of the West B zone of the CAF referees’ committee.

Since 2010, Latré-Kayi Edzona Lawson-Hogban is also a professor of football laws at the National Institute of Youth and Sports of Togo. She is also a FIFA/CAF referee instructor since 2006.

Marie-Grace Nyinawumuntu (Rwanda)

Former Rwanda women’s national football team coach, Marie-Grace Nyinawumuntu is the technical director of the Paris Saint-Germain Academy, which will open in November 2021 in Rwanda. The academy is part of a three-year sponsorship deal that was signed in December 2019 between Rwanda and PSG.  The academy offers youngsters the opportunity to reveal their full potential in top-level sports facilities with specially trained coaches from the club.

Safia Abdel Dayem (Egypt)

Safia Abdel Dayem, 35, is the President of the CAF Women’s Football Development Bureau. She started her career as a footballer with the Egyptian club Wadi Degla, before becoming a coach with the same club. After university, she worked in the field of sports marketing.

Safia Abdel Dayem always wanted to study sports management and obtained a Master’s degree by joining the FIFA/CIES Executive Programme in Sports Management, Law and Humanities, becoming the first Egyptian woman to enrol in the 10-month programme, which is effectively designed to develop personalities capable of dealing with the complex and ever-changing world of sport.

After that, Safia Abdel Dayem worked for a year and a half at the regional office for women’s football development (FIFA). In 2020, she was appointed president of the development office at CAF.

Fatou Camara (Mali)

Fatou Camara, a former Mali international, is the project coordinator for West and Central Africa at FIFA’s regional office in Dakar. She is the first person to head this office, which was inaugurated in 2018 and aims to support federations in the elaboration and implementation of their development strategies, the efficiency of their governance and the optimisation of the management of their financial resources, in accordance with the provisions of the FIFA Forward Programme.

Fatou Camara was the president of the central committee for women’s football in Mali and CAF’s match commissioner.A former player of FC Amazone de Boulkassoumbougou, a district of Bamako, Fatou Camara played for the Malian women’s football team for seven years and participated in two editions of the African Cup of Nations (CAN), in 2002 and 2004, before retiring in 2004 at the age of 26.

Before heading the FIFA office in Dakar, Fatou Camara worked as a financial assistant for technical cooperation projects and as an account manager for the International Labour Office in Mali.

Lydia Nsekera (Burundi)

Lydia Nsekera is the vice-chair of the FIFA Development Committee, which deals with FIFA’s development programs. The committee develops and proposes appropriate strategies, regularly reviews these strategies and analyses the support provided to member associations, confederations and regional associations.

Lydia Nsekera was the first female president of the Burundian soccer federation and the first female member of the FIFA executive committee, which she joined in 2012.
She has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 2009 and president of the National Olympic Committee of Burundi since 2017.


Gifty Oware (Ghana)

Gifty Oware, 35, is the vice-president of Berekum Chelsea FC, a first division football club in Ghana, which won the Ghanaian league in 2011. Gifty Oware is also the co-owner of Berry Ladies Football Club (formerly Halifax Ladies), a women’s first division team in Ghana.  In addition, Gifty Oware is also currently a member of the Ghana Football Association’s management committee for the Black Maidens (under 17 level of women’s football). She has been appointed vice-chairperson of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the Women’s Premier League Super Cup.

Mato Madlala (South Africa)

Mato Madlala is the current acting CEO of the South African Premier Soccer League, a position she has held since November 2015. She is also the owner and chairman of Lamontville Golden Arrows F.C, a South African PSL football club based in Durban. She revived the club (then called Ntokozo FC) in 1996 and registered it in 2001 with her late brother, Rocky. Nonceba Madlala, Mato Madlala’s niece, is the club’s manager.

Mato Madlala is a successful businesswoman, a board member of several companies and has stakes in several businesses.

Lydia Monyepad (South Africa)

Lydia Monyepao is currently the Deputy Director of TuksSport, the University of Pretoria’s Department of Sport. She is also the financial manager of the South African Football Coaches Association (SAFCA) and an associate member of the South African Football Association (SAFA). A former player for Banyana Banyana, the South African women’s national football team, she managed the team between 2012 and 2014 and was also the team’s liaison officer at the 2010 African Women’s Cup of Nations.

A footballer who believes in combining sport and education, Lydia Monyepao holds a BCom (Wits), BCom Honors in Accounting (UKZN) and a Masters in Sport Management (Loughborough, UK) obtained during her playing career.

Lydia Monyepao is passionate about mentoring young women in football and strengthening women’s leadership in sport. She participated in the FIFA Women in Football Leadership Programme held in Zurich in November 2019, as recommended by SAFA.

Doreen Nabwire (Kenya)

Since September 2021, Doreen Nabwire has been a member of the FIFA Women’s Football Technical Advisory Group. A former captain of the Harambee Starlets, the Kenyan women’s national football team, she also works at the Kenya Football Association as the head of women’s football development. Her responsibilities include managing and directing women’s leagues; developing and implementing women’s football activities at grassroots level; advising on the management and administration of women’s national teams as well as providing networks and platforms that will increase the participation of girls and women in football.

Yvette Klussey (Togo)

Since Thursday 4 March 2021, Yvette Klussey is the head of the women’s football department at the Togolese Football Federation. Previously, she was secretary general of the same federation.

Oumou Kane (Mauritania)

Born in 1980, Oumou Kane is the director of the women’s football department at the Mauritanian Football Federation.  She has been appointed by CAF as a Match Commissioner and was also chosen among 30 women by FIFA as an ambassador for women’s leadership in football.

Félicité Rwemarika

Félicité Rwemarika is the initiator of the Rwandan women’s first division football league. She was an executive member of the Rwandan Football Federation and chair of the women’s football commission, the first woman to hold this position in Rwanda. She is currently First Vice President of the National Olympic and Sports Committee of Rwanda and a member of the International Olympic Committee Commission for Sport and Active Society.

Patricia Rajeriarison

Patricia Rajeriarison is a member of the Executive Committee of the Malagasy Football Federation (FMF) and President of the Women’s Football Commission since 2009. She was elected in 2010 and 2014 to the FMF Executive Committee.

Patricia Rajeriarison has been an expert consultant in tourism and private sector development since 1992 and works on economic development missions and private investment projects in Madagascar and abroad.

Seyni Ndir Seck

Seyni Ndir Seck is the president of the women’s football commission and a member of the executive committee of the Senegalese football federation.

Chantal Ahyi (Benin)

Since 4 June 2021, Chantal Ahyi has been a member of the executive committee of the Beninese football federation and chair of the federation’s women’s football committee.

A specialist in marketing and advertising communication, Chantal Ahyi is known for her numerous efforts to promote football in Benin, where she organised the “Benin Success” football tournament in September 2019.

Aisha Falode (Nigeria)

Aisha Falode, a sports journalist, has also been the President of the Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL), the body that organises the Aiteo Cup and the Nigeria Women Premier League, since 2017.

Diana Hope Nyago (Uganda)

Diana Hope Nyago was the President of Busoga United FC, a Ugandan football team from Jinja District, which currently plays in the Ugandan Premier League after being promoted in the 2013/2014 season.

Diana Hope Nyago transformed a secondary school team into a premier league team.She propelled her school team to the top of Ugandan and East African school football. She then bought Kirinya Football Club in Jinja and merged it with Jinja SSS (now Busoga United FC) to become the club’s president. She saw her team grow in stature to and occupy a fifth place in the Ugandan Premier League in the 2019/20 season. Diana Hope Nyago subsequently stepped down from her position.

Oumou Ahmani Rico (Niger)

Since 2021, Oumou Ahmani Rico has been a member of the executive committee of the Niger Football Association.

Jacqueline Moudeïna (Chad)

Since December 2021, the well-known lawyer Jacqueline Moudeina is the president of the Chadian football normalisation committee, appointed by CAF. This committee, which has a one-year mandate, is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Chadian Football Association; revising the statutes and electoral code of the Federation; acting as an electoral commission for the organisation and conduct of free and transparent elections for the new executive board of the Federation; and drawing up, with the help of FIFA, a sound collaboration agreement between the Ministry of Sport and the Federation in relation to the missions and objectives of each entity.

Baholo Motene (Lesotho)

Baholo Motene, 30, made history at the age of 28 by becoming the youngest chairperson of the Lesotho Women’s Football Executive Committee. The former international footballer founded the women’s team of the Lesotho Defence Force, the army of the Kingdom of Lesotho.

Joalane Tongoane (Lesotho)

Joalane Tongoane is the current head of the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) women’s football office, a position she has held since 2019. She has helped women find pensionable jobs through football.

Joalane Tongoane won two gold medals at inter-university championships with the National University of Lesotho (NUL) Rovers Ladies in 2012 and 2013. She also won a silver medal with Rovers Ladies at the 2011 university championship in Botswana.

Joalane Tongoane holds the FIFA Level I coaching certificate, having gained this qualification in 2015. She has completed the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Licence D coaching course in Lesotho. In 2018, she attended the FIFA Women’s Football Coaching Course in Maseru, facilitated by Jacqui Shipanga from Namibia.

Joalane Tongoane also holds a CAF Women’s Football Administration Level I Diploma, acquired in Cairo, Egypt in 2019, and a CAF Women’s Football Administration Level II qualification, obtained in April 2021.

Virginia Mendez Da Cruz (Guinea Bissau)

Virginia Mendez Da Cruz is the secretary general of the Guinea-Bissau Football Association.

Syrine Mrabet (Tunisia)

From 2020 to 2021, Syrine Mrabet was the president of the Club Olympique des Transports, a second division club in Tunisia. She is the first woman to have chaired a football club in Tunisia.

A graduate of the Faculty of Legal and Political Sciences in Tunis, Syrine Mrabet works in the youth sector and has been active in civil society for years.

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