• Seychelles have entered the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking for the first time

  • National team coach Angeline Chua explains how they achieved this

  • “It’s a special moment for the players”

It is exactly one week since the new FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking was published. It featured three new teams, taking the total number of nations to a new record high of 181. One of these sides is Seychelles, who have entered the Women’s Ranking in 160th place.

“It’s really positive for the football federation because it means double the reporting about women’s and youth football – girls and boys,” said Seychelles head coach Angeline Chua in an interview with FIFA.com.

“It’s a special moment for the players, especially for the older generation. They’ve been playing for a long time, and being ranked for the first time helps their confidence.”

Chua, who describes herself as “a player from the older generation”, represented the Singapore women’s national team (currently 132nd) between 2002 and 2019 before going on to coach the U-14 and U-15 girls’ national teams in her homeland.

“I’m from Singapore and we have been ranked since I was in the national team, so it was not a new experience for me,” explained Chua, who took up her post as Seychelles coach in April 2021. But how exactly did her new charges make the leap into the Women’s Ranking in the first place?

“I wanted to find out what you have to do to get a ranking, so I started googling, but I couldn’t find anything, so I sent an email to FIFA,” she recalled.

“They sent me a report about Seychelles and explained what we needed to do to be ranked. As an unranked team you have to play five matches against ranked sides. We were lucky enough to get funding, which meant we could play during the FIFA window against a team that was closer to us in terms of skill. Our approach was to play in a FIFA window.”

The 33-year-old believes that the visibility the Women’s Ranking gives a small country like Seychelles is what makes it so important. After all, more visibility means more attention. As well as giving players the opportunity to test themselves against the world’s best, stepping onto the international stage also allows them to appreciate their own talent.

“Football is for everyone and gives everyone a chance to showcase their talent,” said Chua. “It doesn’t matter where you come from, whether it’s a small country or a big one – everyone should have an equal chance to succeed. I think it’s an ideal situation in that respect.”

As well as leading training on the pitch, the former Singapore midfielder is also working hard to develop and implement a long-term strategic plan for women’s and girls’ football. Her aim is to take a holistic approach to optimise the team’s performance and share fundamental footballing knowledge.

“Consistency is the most important part,” Chua explained. “Our long-term strategy is to build a successful national team, increase visibility and create a positive image for women’s football. It isn’t yet standard practice for someone to be viewed positively if they play football. Women who play football still face some stereotypes.”

The experience Chua gained as a player and coach in the Women’s Assistance Programme (WAP) run by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) should help her to implement this strategy.

“In Singapore the female coaches actually started studying and gathering expertise,” she recalled. “I never stopped studying after being introduced to all these concepts in 2016. I want the same for Seychelles – that people keep developing the women’s game and put their new knowledge into practice.”