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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 December 2007, 13:56 GMT
Nsekera leads Burundi revolution
Emmanuel Muga
BBC Sport, Dar-es-Salam

Lydia Nsekera
Nsekera has brought some changes to Burundi football

Burundi football was in disarray in 2004 when Fifa froze its annual grants for the country.

The world body acted after accusing the Burundi's football authorities of misusing the money.

There had been no league action for three consecutive seasons, resulting in talented players leaving the country in droves for neighbouring states.

But in September 2004, Lydia Nsekera took over as president of the Burundi Football Federation (FFB).

That heralded the beginning of a new era and it was not long before she began to turn things round.

Nsekera, who at the time was running a car-repair company, was no stranger to the game as she was a member of the federation's competitions committee.

The 40-year-old was initially reluctant to run for office and only agreed after she was assured of support to make sweeping changes.

"They [members of the executive] came to me, requesting me to run to be the federation's president," Nsekera told BBC Sport.

"At first I hesitated because the situation was too bad in the federation. But they insisted.

"Finally I agreed on condition that once I am elected they should be ready to accept changes."

Burundi narrowly missed out on a place at the 2008 Nations Cup

Three years on Nsekera has brought fundamental changes to football in her country thanks to her organisational abilities.

"After taking over, I restored discipline in the FA, I overhauled the regulations and re-organised the league," she said.

"Now there is financial discipline, we have three league divisions, I have carried out an audit to establish the number of players we have in and outside the country."

Her efforts have been recognised by Fifa, who normalised its relationship with the federation by paying for a new office complex in 2005.

Even before the state-of-the-art office building had been commissioned, the FFB had already submitted a plan for Fifa to fund another project.

The strides taken by Nsekera prompted Fifa to approve the plan for a national training centre for young players in Bujumbura.

The project was given the go-ahead in March and future Burundi players will undergo training at the centre when it is completed.

Her efforts have also impacted positively on the national team's performance.

Burundi were one of the countries who narrowly missed out on a place at next year's Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana.


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