The Somali women’s football team fights cultural barriers and funding problems in a bid to represent the country.
Courage, corruption, culture and competition – all major factors in the life and times of the first women’s football team in Somalia and its inspirational young coach, Shaima Sellal. The government gave the go-ahead for a women’s team in 1994, but it did not take off because of the continuing civil war. Football can be a casualty of the conflict in a “failed state”.
But when an enthusiastic, 19-year-old player-coach arrived from Kenya in 2015, she kick-started the team and adopted the name the “Golden Girls”. The team grew, and it applied to FIFA for funding to go to South Africa to play in a tournament in 2018 – but the local authorities siphoned off the cash. When Shaima questioned them, she received threats and had to flee back to Kenya.
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Now Shaima arrives back in Somalia, firing on all cylinders. In this film, she and her players tell their personal stories of having to fight the prejudices of a traditional, conservative Muslim culture and for recognition by their families and society as a whole. But when they get the backing of the Somali National Women’s Organisation, they finally take off to compete in a tournament abroad. They might lose the final but they gain a lot of kudos and self-belief.
“We’re back again,” says Shaima. “The Golden Girls are back again.”