Wednesday 22 March 2023, 15:00

Fatma Samoura visits the Island of Gorée

  • Second day of Fatma Samoura's official visit to Senegal saw her visit the island of Gorée

  • The development of women's football was once again at the heart of discussions

  • The FIFA delegation also visited a school for girls, where they passed on motivational messages

FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura continued her four-day official visit to her native Senegal on Wednesday with a visit to the Island of Gorée in the Bay of Dakar. Once again, she stressed the need for the west African country to continue its efforts to develop women's football.

While Gorée is a symbol of the memory of the African slave trade, which for centuries saw hundreds of thousands of slaves concentrated there before being shipped to America, the island is also a dynamic place of life, focused on culture, sport and youth.

It is all these facets of the Island of Gorée that the Secretary General came to embrace, accompanied by a FIFA delegation, the Senegalese Football Federation and the Senegalese Ministry of Tourism, and guided by the mayor of the island, who is none other than Mr Augustin Senghor, President of the Senegalese Football Federation. "We can only be proud," he said of the recent successes of Senegalese football. "But we must ensure that this period we are experiencing is sustainable by making even more efforts. As the saying goes, it is easier to get to the top than to stay there. We have waited 60 years to get to the top. Now we need to commit to staying there for at least another 60 years."

This ambition also includes the development of women's football. "I am proud to be Senegalese. We are triple African champions and also in Beach Soccer” said the FIFA Secretary General. “We'll see you in Indonesia (at the FIFA U-20 World Cup this coming May and June). I would like these achievements to be replicated in women's football. I have no doubt that in 2027, we will have a national team competitive at the highest level.”

The development of women's football requires not only infrastructure development, but also education. Gorée Island is at the forefront of this sector with the Mariama Bâ Education Centre, a boarding school of excellence for young Senegalese girls, which the FIFA delegation visited after the inauguration of an artificial football pitch bearing the name of a lover of the game, promoter of women's football, and friend and right-hand man of President Augustin Senghor, Mr Soyoubou Gaye, who passed away last August. The visit then took in the Maison des Esclaves de l'Ile de Goree and a tour of the Maison des Esclaves.

In front of the school girls, the Secretary General invited Sarai Bareman, FIFA's Chief Women's Football Officer, to speak. "I come from a small island called Samoa, which has a population of 200,000. If you haven't heard of it, just Google it! Coming from there, I find myself in a position to influence 211 countries around the world to support women and girls through football. “Here at school, I have seen your grades and they are impressive! You are competing against each other, but I want to tell you this: in your school life, and later in your chosen career, as women we must also support each other and uplift each other. I want you to remember this message." A powerful speech that left its mark on the audience. Another small step in Senegal's great march forward to ensure that its football shines on all fronts and that its women's football can finally express its full potential.