From Pitches in Asia – Report from JFA Coaches/Instructors Vol. 56: KAWAMOTO Naoko Head Coach of U-17 & U-20 Mongolia Women's National Team
31 August 2021
Mongolian football under the Corona-pandemic
Before the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Mongolia on 11 November 2020, football training sessions were held outdoors without any restrictions. The country went into lockdown immediately after the first case was reported and all football activities were suspended thereafter. The Mongolia Men’s National Team, who were preparing ahead of the second round of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, were not permitted to train in Mongolia and had to hold their training camp in Turkey to prepare for the qualifiers. The lockdown was lifted in March 2021, during which outdoor trainings were permitted. However, the country went back into lockdown after a month, once again shutting down all outdoor football activities until mid-May.
Daily football activities
After Mongolia went into lockdown in November 2020, we conducted online training via Zoom six times a week until the end of February, and three times a week after March. The players of the U-17/U-20 Women’s National Team were taking online classes for their school every day, so we had them participate in our training whenever they didn’t have schoolwork. The frequency of participation in training varied among the players, creating a substantial gap in physical conditions among them, which made it hard for us to set the intensity level for each training. Once the lockdown was lifted in mid-May, we were able to resume our outdoor football activities. In May and June, coaching courses were held within the Mongolian Football Federation (MFF), in which the players of the U-17 Women’s National Team participated as support players. After outdoor activities were permitted, I started coaching remotely, and kept in touch with the assistant coaches via SNS to check-in on the content and atmosphere of the training sessions. I find it more difficult to convey details compared to being on the pitch, but I could see that the players were embracing the joy of training outdoors.
In addition, I have been attending online meetings with MFF staff members and creating videos requested by the MFF. I am very grateful that I was able to carry out my daily activities with the support of the team manager, assistant coach, and MFF staff members.
Brief stay in Japan before returning to Mongolia
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I had temporarily returned to Japan, but now that I am fully vaccinated, I am able to make my way back to Mongolia. This will be my third season as the head coach of the U-17/U-20 Mongolia Women’s National Team. Our goal for the first season was to advance through the first round qualifiers of the AFC U17 Women’s Asian Cup 2022 and the AFC U20 Women’s Asian Cup 2022, but both competitions were cancelled due to the pandemic. It was unfortunate that these competitions were cancelled, but we are now working towards our new goal of advancing through the first round qualifiers of the AFC U17 Women’s Asian Cup 2024 and the AFC U20 Women’s Asian Cup 2024. Once making my return to Mongolia, I will work on identifying new talents to reassemble the teams. The Women's National League has started in Mongolia since the beginning of August of this year, which is giving extra motivation for the players, so I am looking forward to our upcoming activities.
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