The Long and Difficult Path of the Mauritanian National Women’s Football Team

Lucas Barioulet, France

The Mauritanian national women’s football team, which was founded less than a year ago, played it first international match against Djibouti last summer.

Women found it difficult to play football in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. The coach, Abdoulaye Diallo, a former Mauritanian international palyer, had to walk around the street playgrounds of Nouakchott to form his team, where girls were playing with boys secretely, hiding from their parents, who were against it. Haby, Coumba, Adjara, Fama and the others are now training four times a week under him. “We want to change society’s vision of women in Mauritania”, claims the director of the women’s football federation, Oumou Kane.

Whether a student from a wealthy family or a street vendor, the team allows women from all backgrounds to play together, in a society sharply divided between ethnic groups. The path has not been easy, between criticism from relatives and religious leaders.

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