Monday July 26, 2021
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.
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.”