Nothing cheers and motivates us more than coming across a success story of a young Egyptian individual with a dream. Farida Salem is an Egyptian Soccer Player, who grew up playing with boys. She started practicing when she was 11, and after consolidating her name in the Egyptian football scene, she’s now pursuing her dream in Canada.
The national MVP continues to battle gender stereotypes and cultural boundaries in her hometown; while inspiring other young Egyptian girls to pursue their football dreams. Her goal is developing the women’s game across the world, and she’s definitely upping the women’s game. We sat down with the inspiring champion to bring you more of her journey.
Ever imagined the success you achieved when you first started football?
Never crossed my mind, I just played for fun and thought that I’ll stop after school. Back when I started there were only boy teams. But when I started playing semi-professionally in Maadi Club and then Wady Degla Club, I became much more optimistic about what the game might bring to my life.
What else do you want to achieve?
I want to play in a European league, I had the chance to play in Sweden but couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity because I was still studying; but since I graduated, I now can whenever the time is right. I also dream of opening my own girl’s football Academy that will target all ages. When the project takes off I want to make camps in different governorates to discover the Egyptian young talents that constantly reach out to me talking about their football dreams.
What’s the achievement you’re proud of the most?
Winning the Provisional Championship with my university in Canada! We were then ranked sixth across Canada which is a big deal because of how intense the league is. It’s definitely very physically demanding, highly competitive, and requires a lot of commitment and hard work.
What’s the difference between your training routines in Egypt and Canada?
In Egypt, I used to have three football practices per week and that’s it, while in Canada, they prioritize fitness more than football skills. I had to prepare in off season from February till the season starts in September. Six days a week of intense gym workout, and started adding football practice only in July.
Which football league do you dream of joining?
I would love to join the Premiere or the French leagues. They’re highly competitive and guarantees maximum exposure.
Who’s your role model on and off the field?
On field, Alex Morgan the Striker of the United States National Team, Christiano Ronaldo, and of course Mohamed Salah. Off the field, Tony Morrison and Michelle Rodriguez.
What do you say to young girls who’re interested in football but are limited by the stereotypes?
It’s all not true, don’t let stereotypes ever limit you. Pursue your dreams, take baby steps, and you’ll eventually reach your goals.
Who supported you the most and how?
My family supported me all the way, and I’m immensely grateful. Mom used to drive me to my endless practices, and my brothers used to play with me, attend my practices, and watch my matches.
What obstacles did you face as a girl playing football in Egypt?
To begin with, there was no girls team when I first started football; thus, I enrolled in a boys’ academy. There was a huge struggle with uni, as for example Wadi Degla Team was very strict when it comes to training. My mother had to drive me to my practices because there were no Ubers back then.
What’re the most sexist comments that you’ve heard while playing football?
Matbaselhash, deh bent. (Don’t pass her the ball, she’s a girl)
Many people also asked me why I’m playing a boys’ game. Why not play tennis, squash, volleyball, or any less physical game.
What do you think is missing for the Egyptian National Football team for Women to participate in the World Cup?
We certainly need more long term plans, progression in the training, and a whole new system with more new tactics. The league also lacks competition, with only one team dominating it every year.
How did your university/team in Canada discover your talents?
I took a gap year from my university to shoot a video that showcases my football skills and talent. Everyone around me was surprised from the radical decision but I still went through with it, and I’m glad I did.
I was an organizer in a soccer cup for the girls’ teams. Representatives from my current university in Canada was attending the cup in Egypt; scouting for the men’s team. I talked with them and asked if they have a girls’ team, and they gave me the email of the coach. I sent him my video, and he took it from there.