VIENTIANE (16 Jan 2021) – Kanya Keomany, the Lao Football Federation (LFF) General Secretary, shares her inspiring story of breaking through barriers and creating history as a woman in Asian football in the latest episode of the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) hugely popular “It’s My Game”.
Keomany has experienced a wide range of responsibilities in the last decade in football but being appointed as the first female match commissioner for the 2019 AFC Cup Final remains her proudest achievement.
“It was a great experience,” said Keomany, who was also selected by FIFA and the AFC to manage the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Asian Qualifiers.
“There are always new lessons to learn even though you’ve been doing something for more than 10 years. Being the match commissioner for the men’s match is different than a women’s game. Of course, the number of spectators in the stadiums are higher and managing the crowds is more challenging while the situation in women’s competition can be a little more predictable.”
There was another landmark for Keomany in 2018 as she was elected as the AFC Executive Committee Member and LFF General Secretary. As a key figure and inspiring female leader of football development in her country, Keomany admitted that she has encountered some challenges.
“Every position has different challenges, and being the General Secretary is no exception. Externally, it is important to build strong relationships with the government, public, sponsors and all stakeholders. Internally, I also need to coordinate with all the departments to make sure that they are on track with our strategies.”
Keomany started her career because of her passion for football as a fan. After graduating from university, she went into sports production, enjoying stints in various aspects of the media – including print as well as broadcast – to promote sports across the country.
Her outstanding talent was spotted by the LFF after she volunteered at several of its football events, which also led Keomany to her appointment as the first member of the Lao women’s football committee.
“There were no women’s national team and few women’s competitions in Laos previously. Therefore, we set up a long-term plan for women’s football and established the youth teams with different age categories such as U-14, U-15, U-16 and U-19. In the meantime, we organised more women’s football competitions and increased the number of female referees and coaches.”
Women’s football in Laos has witnessed incredible progress through the pioneering efforts of Keomany. As the main objective of the LFF development plan, Laos’ senior women’s national team was formed in 2020 despite the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Keomany hopes that the team will get more exposure when it is safe to resume competitions.
“The AFC has successfully organised the pilot Women’s Club Championship in Korea Republic in 2019. We will also witness the milestone AFC Women’s Asian Cup, which has been expanded from eight to 12 participating teams in India in 2022.
“The development of women’s football in this Continent is very promising. I hope that what I have done can inspire more girls who love football to join this industry, because there are still opportunities for them.
“I hope more Asian teams will raise the FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy, and I hope to see Asian women’s football grow in popularity and played in full stadiums. That would be my dream for the future.”
The AFC’s “It’s My Game” campaign, which continues to celebrate the women’s game and recognise and encourage more women to join the workforce in football, has been viewed more than 639,047 times and reached over 1.95 million people across the AFC’s digital channels. – www.the-afc.com