Algeria’s female football team, playing football to break stereotypes.

Date: Wednesday, July 25, 2018

 
The national women’s football team of Algeria, with their coach. Photo: Fédération Algérienne de Football

 

The Algerian women’s football team was created in the early nineteen nineties. The team has since become professional and the Algerian Football Federation has opened schools for the development of women’s football in several regions of the country. The good results of the team, including qualifying for the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations to be held in Ghana in November, have contributed to increasing the enthusiasm of Algerian women for women’s football, both as players and supporters. Men’s interest in women’s football is also beginning to increase. The team has partnered with UN Women Algeria to raise awareness about gender equality at sporting events. Six players of the national women’s football team, and their coach and selector, Azzeddine Chih, spoke with UN Women about their journey.

 

Bouhani Benziane Naima - Center forward

 “I started playing football at the age of 8 and since then I had only one objective: to become an international player. This ambition and my family’s support have helped me to go through the difficult moments. As soon as I get on the field, I forget everything. On the field, we never get negative comments. There are a few hostile comments on social media and some people criticize our choice but I have my family’s trust, so that criticism will never stop me- I play football and I am a woman; one doesn’t exclude the other.”

 

Ouadah Isma– Side midfielder

 “Things have already evolved, and we hope that the future generations will keep building on what has already been built in Algeria since 1998. Women’s football will become a discipline like any other one.”

 

Imane Chebal – Defensive midfielder

“The more girls there are playing sports and football, the more we can break the prejudices that still exist.”

 

Assia Sidhoum  – Defensive midfielder

“Sport can help to empower women and can open a lot of doors.”

 

Myriam Benlazar – Striker

“If we have a passion, we need to live it fully, without paying attention to prejudices. Women’s football has progressed over the years, it is everywhere today and it is well accepted. I hope that women’s football will become increasingly visible and celebrated for its positive impact.”

 

Fatima Bara- Side midfielder

“If a girl has an objective, on the personal or on the professional level, nothing should prevent her from achieving it. That’s valid in football and sports in general.”

 

AZZEDINE CHIH, Selector of the Algerian national football team since 2002

 
AZZEDINE CHIH, Selector of the Algerian national soccer team since 2002.

 

 “The Algerian national women’s football team has earned its legitimacy through its good results. We had to highlight our presence to obtain the right to exist in the discipline.  These women are strong, seasoned players, far removed from traditional stereotypes of women. Some are already prepared to be future coaches and managers. Getting into football later than usual, at the age of 28 for some of them, they had to be brave to overcome the obstacles they faced.”

Photos: Fédération Algérienne de Football