The good thing about the women’s game is not just in the fierce competition that the game has come to be known by.
Whether we like to agree with it or not, it is not sexism to acknowledge that the women’s race always delivers something more humanitarian, more personal and more compassionate in any facet of life.
Football is no exception, and it is becoming a known fact that the women’s game has delivered in drawing the attention of the world to many ills of our society.
Amongst women folk worldwide, breast cancer is a menace. Many have died from it; and many lives have changed because of this disease. And while the eyes of the western world is being opened to the sad reality of breast cancer and treatment is being advanced therefor, it is a fact that down in the hinterlands of Africa, more needs to be done.
And so it happened that on 15 October, in Bo City, Sierra Leone paid respect to, and acknowledged Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the Bo Stadium.
The setting was the FIFA Under-17 World Cup qualification game between Sierra Leone and visitors The Gambia.
It was the first time that Sierra Leone will present a female national team in age-grade competitions to play an international competitive game, and it was a marked success. Although the home team lost 3-0, it did not overshadow the importance of what had just happened. And to add the Breast Cancer Awareness to it was just the icing.
The patron of the campaign, women’s football activist and President of Sierra Leone Football Association – Isha Johansen – saw beyond the result, “It was a pivotal day for us in this country. We are showing that we are ready to compete on all fronts – be it in the male or female side of the game”, she explained. “We are no longer whipping nation that gets hammered 9-0, 10-1. We are competing, and are giving our girls exposure and hope that it can be better”.
The message that brought awareness to the Breast Cancer cause was accentuated by a big banner held by the teams, as well as a reading by the captain of the U17 Sierra Leone team Zainab Kamara, preceding the game.
Johansen, who preaches global awareness to all the malaise of society believes that football can help a lot in solving health issues. “People watch football. It is the most watched game in the world, and when our girls take a stand, we want the world to take notice. My personal motto for the campaign is ‘Keeping Abreast…’ and I am hoping that our girls would have inspired mothers and sisters at home to be conscious and aware so that they can report any slight changes to their bodies and not trivialize things”, she concluded.