July 7, 2022

The Big Interview: Ayub Khalifa, a teacher who has made it big with managing Women’s football

By Allan Damba
National Women U20 team head coach Ayub Khalifan during training at the FUFA Technical Centre in Njeru / FUFA Image

As Women’s football continues to gain traction in the country, a few individuals have had a notable impact and their contribution can never go unnoticed.

Uganda U20 Women’s team head coach, Ayub Khalifa Kiyingi has made a mark, so admirable in the quest to grow the game among the ladies.

He has had an incredible year with the side especially in 2021 and in turn, he has earned himself a nomination in the Airtel FUFA Coach of the Year Award.

The tactician, in this exclusive Q&A Interview with Football256, takes us through his life, family, playing career and his switch from teaching to coaching football.

Football256: Good afternoon, Coach. It’s a busy day, I see.

Khalifa: Good afternoon, I always have busy days lately.

Football256: Several people know very little about you, coach.

Khalifa: Ayub Khalifa Kiyingi is my name. I hail from Jinja, born to Kassim Khalifa and the late Amina Nalumansi Amina Nakazimba.

I went to Walukaba West Primary School and Main Street school. For the “O” and “A” level, I went to Jinja SSS.

I enrolled at the Institute of teacher education for a diploma in secondary education and 2003, I did my Bachelor’s degree in education at Kyambogo university.

I currently teach Technical Drawing at Kawempe Muslim SS.

Football256: Anyone in family that has taken up football?

Khalifa: Yes, my Dad played for and coached Nytil Football Club in Jinja many years back when I was still young.

Football256: Did you play football before taking up coaching?

Khalifa: Yes, I started playing football in Jinja with Wama Football Club (Walukaba Masese), I later went to Iganga Football Club but when I joined Kyambogo University, I joined Kireka United which was near.

When I got a fracture, I decided to concentrate on school matters and gave up on playing football.

Football256: When and where do you start coaching?

Khalifa: I started coaching immediately after joining Kawempe Muslim SS in 1999 as a games teacher.

Then, we used to do very many coaching courses but most of them were not graded, we had coaching courses like ‘FUFA Beginners’, ‘FUFA Intermediary,’ ‘FUFA Advanced’ and many others.

But, they were not streamlined like the current CAF courses. So, when CAF introduced the license coaching certificate, I enrolled for CAF C and later finished CAF B. I am waiting for CAF A any time it’s brought on.

Football256: Why did you choose Women’s football yet it’s not as big as the men’s?

Kahlifa: I coach both boys and girls at school but the girls’ team sounds more than the boys’ team. I have been the head coach of Kireka United before, that was when it was in the region and continued with it to the Big League.

Women football was an area that was not very competitive by then, school teams would go for East African games to represent Uganda, so I decided to put more effort into the girls game because it had my opportunities for qualification.

Football256: Kindly draw a difference between managing men and women.

Khalifa: Women are very sensitive, need a lot of care, and if you are to get results from them, you need to be a down to earth person to understand them.

They pay a lot of attention to details. Things you would see as minor are big issues for them.

Football256: Which team do you have the biggest attachment to?

Khalifa: It’s Kawempe Muslim SS, of course.

Football256: Who are some of the biggest talents you have coached?

Khalifa: Quite many, but, Sandra Nabweteme, Hasifah Nassuna and Shamim Nakacwa stand out.

Football256: What should be done to entice more women to take up playing football? And to have women football get bigger?

Khalifa: More competitions should be created to give the girls more playing time. The federation should lobby for government support towards existing clubs to motivate the club owners.

The national leagues should have sponsors who can give small incentives to motivate the girls like “man of the match” for each game played.

A minimum standard pay that is, the monthly salary should be introduced in all clubs so that these girls know that there is something they can achieve out of playing football.

Football256: And to have women take up coaching, what should be done?

Khalifa: The players who are about to retire should be engaged to take on coaching courses.

Football256: Your biggest memory with the U20 team.

Khalifa: Unfortunately it’s a sad one. When I lost in a dramatic way to Ethiopia in CECAFA this year. We led 2-0 and they win the game 3-2.

Football256: What are your aspirations with the U20 team?

Khalifa: My dream with the U20 is to change the image of women football in Uganda through playing good football so that it can create a world of followers.

Football256: Are Uganda’s World Cup dreams valid, in the years to come. Both female and male?

Khalifa: Nothing is impossible, those who have been in the World Cup don’t do anything different from what we do but rather they do what we do in a special way.

Football256: Do you have any role models?

Khalifa (without hesitation): Definitely Pep Guardiola.

Football256: Does that mean you share the same footballing mind? What’s your style?

Khalifa: Being a teacher by professional, I apply the classroom teaching methodologies in my coaching system, I know no mind can learn when not happy, that is why fun is always at the forefront when am to coach. I love seeing my team pass the ball.

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