Monday 27 December 2021, 10:00

2021: Strong women and strong opinions

  • Special events, dreams, the Olympics...

  • Women’s football had all this and more in 2021

  • We present a small selection from our large collection of interviews

Just like the previous year, 2021 was dominated by the coronavirus pandemic. Many well-known faces from the world of football sat down to answer our questions and tell us more about their motivations, special moments, dreams, gratitude and about seizing life’s opportunities. We have picked out a small selection from our large collection of interviews for your enjoyment. And if there is one thing this year has taught us as it draws to a close, it is that women’s football will continue to have a very special place on in 2022.

"I had high hopes that one day I could be part of the management or a big national team. After I finished my degree I started working for the federation, and in 2019 I was appointed as assistant to the general secretary. I grew tremendously as a person and learned to be disciplined, as well as learning a lot about the game and administration. I learn a lot every day. The coach and the president in particular have supported me throughout my whole journey. They came to me and told me I should be the team manager. A woman has never held this position before. For me it’s a dream come true." Cadijah Mars, the first woman ever appointed as team manager of the Barbados national side

"It’s not easy. You know you’re not the same player as before – yet. And you hear all these voices saying that you can’t do it. Sometimes I doubted myself and thought, 'Maybe they’re right.' But at the same time it motivated me and I told myself, 'I’m going to show them.'" Iceland international Dagny Brynjarsdottir on balancing motherhood and football

"When I started playing with the national team, we were losing to the USA 9-0. That was the norm. So to be a part of a group standing on top of the podium... I never really thought it would happen for me." Christine Sinclair, who won Olympic gold with Canada in Yokohama

"I began coaching in 2009 with the East Helwan Youth Centre club. Right from the start, I was ridiculed and criticised. People made fun of the players for taking orders from a woman, telling them that it would negatively affect their scores. I had a tough time before coming to Goldi Sporting Club, but my serious approach and solid results really boosted my credibility." Faiza Haider, the first woman to coach a men’s team in Egypt

"My love for Guam has grown and the way I talk about it has really changed. I really felt more connected to Guam and I was proud to represent the island, especially for my grandmother, who’s still alive. I grew into my leadership role but also in terms of my personal cultural perspective. I felt more connected. I know more about Guam and the girls showed me more about my culture that I wasn’t aware of. That’s one of the things I’ll take away with me, getting that connection." Samantha Kaufman, who has been playing for Guam since 2014

"I got here and was told that we would be starting at six in the morning. Having people fit and ready to go at 6am is something I’d never experienced, and yet at the stroke of six, 24 women arrived and wanted to start training. I thought: 'This can’t be happening'. I looked at the women and they were all full of enthusiasm, passion and spirit. They then went on to spend the next 14 days doing the C-licence course with me, and every day, they were there at six on the dot." Monika Staab on her first impressions of Saudi Arabia

"Be passionate, because if you’re passionate about something, you’ll naturally work harder at it, no matter what the domain. You also have to work on your self-confidence and follow your instincts, so you don’t get influenced by what’s being said around you. I occasionally heard people say that what I was doing was a bad idea and that it wouldn’t get me anywhere, but I knew deep down that they were wrong." Freestyler Lisa Zamouche is opening many doors for the next generation

"I was at the training camps and the matches as technical advisor and I offered support both on and off the pitch. Even after all that success there were still discussions about replacing the female coach with a man. It was sort of saying: 'now that we’re successful we need someone good.' We need to get attitudes like that out of people’s heads. In situations like that I push back and clarify things. At the same time, I want to educate the dedicated women, train them further and improve their coaching licences so that they have something to show on paper: 'I have an A or B licence, I’m qualified.''' Dr Carolin Braun on supporting football development, educating coaches and identifying talented youngsters in Botswana