Women In Sports: Football Coach Tells Her Story

Not many women would show interest in a male dominated sport like football, but that was not the case for 38-year-old, Annabel Rao. She is head coach for the Nasinu
03 Oct 2020 11:19
Women In Sports: Football Coach Tells Her Story
Nasinu senior women’s head coach, Annabel Rao Photo: Fiji FA Media

Not many women would show interest in a male dominated sport like football, but that was not the case for 38-year-old, Annabel Rao. She is head coach for the Nasinu Women’s football team and was one of those that helped revive the team.

She is married to Josaia Young from Ra.

Rao holds a Diploma in Sports Science from Fiji National University and a Diploma in Business Management from APTECH Computer School.

She is a logistic officer at Nanuku Scrap Metal Buyers where she looks after the loading and preparation of documents for containers before they are exported. She also deals with investors when they are in and out of the country.

Rao holds a B- License in coaching and is yet to complete two more courses.

Sports is not only a way of keeping her fit and healthy, but she found it was as a way where her children could be disciplined.

Growing up in Tamavua, Suva, her best childhood memories was attending football club games during her primary school days at Saint Anne’s Primary School.

“I found football exciting because during that time I was the baby of the team and competing with senior women challenged me as an individual,” Rao said.

“And now I get to spend and learn more about my children and they learn to be disciplined as well through sports.”

Coaching journey

Rao was inspired by her parents. She used to watch her father doing his daily routines of training and when he left, her mother continued. Her husband was also one of the pillars.

“It inspired me to see what single parents are cable of doing, even though they are going through hard times.

“Mum pushed me into sports science after watching me wanting to train. While I was pursuing my studiesin Sports Science, I was also a development officer with Fiji Football.

“My husband, Joe, pushed me into sports and I ended back to football.

“We revived Nasinu Women’s and my coaching started again and I have never looked back. I have been on six tours since then and in process of completing my B License.”

Women participation

“We have a lot of talented women and I salute some of these women knowing what they went through to get where they are today, especially single mothers,” Rao said.

“For the past four years women’s football has improved both in the Pacific and Oceania level as well. FIFA ranking in 2015 Fiji was placed at 142 in 2019 placed at 65 n 2020 at 66 and 3rd in the Pacific compared to 4th in 2016.

“I hope to see more women involved in football at all levels from coaching, administrating, referees and development officers.”

IDC preps

Rao, said their side have a blend of young and experienced players including U19 goalie, Seruwaia Vasuitoga and a few national U16 squad members.

“Considering the situation we are in right now we are trying to make the best and most of what we have,” she said.

“Otherwise our preparations are going well and we are adjusting the best as we can. I have a mixture of young school girls and a few experienced players. We would like to improve on and off the field.

“And we are hoping that some of our girls shine out on the field with the skills and talents that will catch the eyes of our national team coaches.”

Nasinu are in Group A with Suva, Rewa, Tailevu Naitasiri and Nadi. They will take on Suva in their opening match on Tuesday at Bidesi Park, in Suva.

“I know Suva has a lot of very experienced players who have played at national level, but we are preparing well for this game, we are not taking this game lightly,” Rao said.

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua


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