Football, as we know it, is a tough male dominated game. A game of blood, sweat, tears and strict rules. And seeing women play it like men do, is equally hard believing as it is imagining eggs turning spherical.
You know, my mother launched me to life when boys from my neighborhood played cool by claiming how well they knew Diego Maradona’s ‘hand of God’ goal every time football popped in our conversations.
Though in retrospect it was excusable because that was unprecedented in the history of football, plus it is all that we knew.
Then came one day and a boy reportedly said he had seen women play football on TV. We didn’t believe him, so we hurried to the TV and indeed it was women playing football in a stadium and being televised. In fact, it was world cup.
“How was that possible?” We couldn’t believe it. It was a total bizarre, since all the girls we knew from school and from home (including my sister) kicked the ball in all the wrong directions, and they were never even interested in knowing how to kick it right.
So, if you are like me, you have that undying curiosity of knowing how it feels like as a woman to play football. And lucky for you and me, here with us we have ShikayaShiku. A woman professional footballer whose love and ability to play football, has seen her all the way to the world cup representing Kenya in Norway.
Let’s find out what she has to say about the less beaten path in the women’s world
When did you start playing football?
I started playing football as a hobby when I was nine, before I discovered boys and girls. (Laughs)
Football is mostly regarded as a man’s game. Did it feel hard or odd to do at first?
Yes it did feel that at first, because usually I would find myself training as a girl alone in a boys’ team. But then because of the passion that I had for soccer, I never felt disturbed by that fact.
What did your parents had to say when you told them you want to take football as a career?
My dad didn’t have a problem with it, because he was a sports man too and he knew the buttered side of being a sports person. On the other hand, my mum was against it, understandably so because I’m girl and she is always very protective. But when I started taking home trophies and medals that I won, she slowly got convinced and up to now her and my dad are very supportive.
How did you find yourself in Kenya women’s football team?
I saw an advert on media and considered trying it out, and by God’s favor I made it through. And the rest like they say is history.
How does it feel to be both feminine and masculine?
(Laughs) As for me, I don’t think I’m that masculine unless now maybe you judge me by my fashion style, because at times I totally dress like a tommy. In fact, unless you know me personally, you can never say I have a thing to do with football. But if in any case I happen to be both masculine and feminine, I feel great altogether.
What would you tell talented girls out there wanting to take on football as a career?
I would want to let them know that it’s not going to be easy, especially here in Kenya where women football has not been taken seriously. And the worst part of it is that there is no much pay and yet you have to have that passion to play the game. But when they put God first and remain determined, doors of blessings will always open like they have been opening for me.
Women football is not largely appreciated, how does that make you feel?
It kills one morale, and at times one feels like giving up. But then, when u play and fans are happy about you, you forget all the negative things -and that’s the best part of soccer.
Should women footballers be paid equally as men footballers in your view? Why?
Yes they should, it’s about gender equality because they are playing the same game as we are, and we also have needs like them. And as they say what a man can do a woman can do better like in football case, women are picking up the pace and they should be paid equally.
How did it feel representing your country Kenya in Norway for world cup tournament among 54 other countries?
That was the most amazing moment of my life, you know, the national anthem being played and millions fans watching you play, it was a golden moment for me. I was so nervous because I had never played in such a stadium full of people and some asking for my autograph – I felt like a star. And it was the most memorable day of my life.
Does being a footballer, you know, being masculine and stronger scare away men?
Like I said earlier I don’t think I’m that masculine. In fact when I tell men that I’m a footballer they get more interested in me, some even tell me they would want to have a girlfriend like me. My man always proudly supports me, and keeps on pushing me to achieve my goals.
Any prospects as far as your career is concerned?
Next year a time like this I might play in Europe.
You now have a glimpse of how it feels like to be woman footballer I hope, and we wish Shikaya all the best in her endeavors.