- in Science
As Botswana began their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign earlier this month, there was a piece of history for the Zebras as they had a female assistant coach.
Dr Carolin Braun, from Germany, moved to Botswana in February for two years to assist in football development, to educate coaches, identify talent and work with women’s football, under the German Olympic Sports Confederation.
But new Zebras coach Adel Amrouche has decided to also use her in the national team coaching set-up as his assistant coach, and she started with games against Zimbabwe and Algeria.
Braun is highly-qualified, with a PhD in sports science and a Uefa A Coaching Licence, and she is pleased to have her new duty with the national team.
“Of course for the world it’s still something new, and at first probably everyone is looking and asking, ‘is this really a woman’, but for me it’s the same, it’s football and I love working with the women as well as working with the men,” Dr Braun told BBC Sport.
“It’s one game and it’s even better if we get rid of any kind of thinking that it’s not for girls.
“I don’t know if any other national team has a female assistant coach, so it’s a good sign and an important sign nowadays to show that it’s not a problem at all.”
With her help Botswana drew 0-0 away in neighbouring Zimbabwe and the lost narrowly 1-0 to African champions Algeria in Gaborone.
Superstitious beliefs about women in football mean that some clubs in some African countries are reluctant to even have a female medic, with a mentality that a woman should not set foot on the pitch.
But for Braun things have played out differently.
“For the players it’s fine, we’re just working, it’s about football, and as long you have knowledge they highly respect you,” she insisted.
“And I have probably what most coaches don’t have, with a PhD in sports science.”
Braun worked in The Gambia in women’s football on a short-term project, and has been head of football at the University of Munich.
Her lengthy CV also includes being coach for 11 to 14-year-old boys with the German Talent Promotion Programme, but Braun is always looking to gain new skills.
“For me there’s a lot to improve, I’m always willing to learn in coach education, and as an instructor I can learn things from participants – never stop learning, that’s what I think,” she explained.