Blantyre – Karen Chawula, at age 43, is the first woman to be named head coach of a top flight soccer squad in Malawi, having been handed the reins at Ntopwa FC.
Coaching a football team is no easy task, more so for a woman in an area traditionally dominated by men, but then again, Chawula’s life has always been about besting the odds.
Her mother, Catherine, passed away when she was seven-years-old. Two years later, her father left home, supposedly in search of greener pastures, and never returned.
“My upbringing was full of difficulties. I lost my mother when l was barely seven. It was tough but at least I still had my father. However, he would leave us and we thought he would soon return but he didn’t.
“It was difficult but with God’s grace we managed to go to school and it was during my school days that l started playing sport.”
Then she fell in love with football.
“At first, breaking into football was almost impossible due to the stereotypes associated with women in the game. But, I eventually made it and I decided to pursue it as a career.”
Chawula has coached the Ntopwa Under-20 and Angaliba U17 teams, in addition to winning trophies with several women’s Premiership teams.
She believes her institutional knowledge of the Ntopwa system will help her score success in her new role.
“I have deep knowledge of the system and I think that knowledge will be handy in my reign. Overall, I am very happy with this new role and I am confident, I will be able to do well during the course of my tenure.”