Female Footballer Shares Challenges and Aspirations in Candid Interview

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By Daniel Edu

Favour Kalu, the versatile midfielder for Athlético FC d’Abidjan, recently discussed her career journey, both on and off the pitch, her experiences playing abroad, and her football dreams in an engaging interview with ‘TANA AIYEJINA’.

Q: You helped Ivorian champions Athletico to a third-place finish in the WAFU qualifiers for the CAF Champions League. How did you feel?

A: I’m truly grateful to God for this achievement. Becoming a CAF player is a dream come true for me. It wasn’t an easy journey, especially after being dropped from Bayelsa Queens a month before the CAF Champions League preparations last year. But God has been faithful, and I’m excited about the opportunities ahead.

Q: Has settling down in Ivory Coast been easy, considering language, food, and environment differences?

A: It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve learned to adapt. I consider it part of life’s challenges, and I’ve been coping as best as I can.

Q: How do you communicate with your teammates in Abidjan?

A: Communication can be interesting; sometimes, I use hand gestures and facial expressions to get my point across, and they do the same. I’ve also picked up some French along the way.

Q: Did your parents initially support your decision to play football?

A: At first, it wasn’t easy for my parents to accept my passion for football. However, they eventually realized that I was determined to pursue this career, and they decided to support me in every way they could.

Q: How did your love for football develop?

A: I can’t pinpoint exactly when my love for football began, but it’s something I’ve been passionate about since childhood. God blessed me with the talent for football, and I fell in love with the sport even before I was born.

Q: Was it challenging when you started playing?

A: Starting out was extremely tough. I faced various challenges, including a lack of food, water, proper clothing, and football equipment during training camps. Additionally, I encountered individuals who attempted to take advantage of me, both male and female teammates and coaches, due to stereotypes about female footballers’ appearances. Thankfully, I remained resolute and didn’t let any of those negative experiences deter me from my path.

Q: Did coaches also make advances towards you?

A: Yes, both male and female coaches, in the past and even now, have made advances towards me. However, I won’t mention any names. It was a challenging situation, but I believe that God has guided me through those tough times.

Q: What are your best and worst moments in your football career?

A: I can’t say I have a worst moment, although I’ve faced numerous challenges throughout my journey. However, one of the toughest moments was being dropped from Bayelsa Queens just a few weeks before the CAF Champions League qualifiers. It was unexpected, but I remained positive because I believed I was destined for greatness. My best moment so far was participating in and winning a third-place medal in the Women’s CAF Champions League qualifiers, a significant achievement in my career.

Q: Some people believe that many women footballers are lesbians. What are your thoughts?

A: I agree with that perception. I’m not here to judge anyone, but I’ll be honest. Some individuals make poor choices and then attribute them to external factors like peer pressure, bad influences, or life circumstances. However, it’s crucial to recognize that our actions are often the result of choices we’ve made. Lesbianism, in particular, can be challenging to escape once it begins. Some may enter into it due to fear of pregnancy, financial support, or personal preferences.

Q: How does society view women footballers?

A: Women footballers are gradually gaining recognition globally, but there is still a perception among some that they are inferior or uneducated. It’s essential to change these stereotypes.

Q: Do you believe women footballers receive adequate support compared to their male counterparts?

A: Unfortunately, female footballers, especially in countries like Nigeria, do not receive the same level of support as male players. There’s a significant disparity in how they are treated and valued.

Q: What are the main challenges faced by women footballers compared to men?

A: Women footballers encounter difficulties such as limited access to menstrual products, playing on empty stomachs, and dealing with menstrual pain. Coaches, both male and female, often exploit players by making inappropriate demands in exchange for opportunities to play. Some players are also taken advantage of when seeking financial assistance for essentials like kits, food, and accommodation.

Q: When do you hope to play football in Europe?

A: I hope to play in Europe soon, and I trust that God will open doors for me. While it won’t be easy, I believe it’s possible, and I’m committed to working hard to make it happen.

Q: The Falcons had a great performance at the last Women’s World Cup. Do you think you can break into the squad soon?

A: I have faith that with hard work and dedication, I can earn a spot in the Falcons squad in the near future.

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