In 2012, Sudan’s Islamic Fiqh Council issued a religious order banning the formation of a national women’s football team in the country. Their reason? It’s an ‘immoral act’. While the order has made most Sudanese women abandon their dreams of becoming professional footballers, Salma al-Majidi has gone around it by becoming a football coach instead – and her players are all men!
"My message to men in general is to give women a chance to do what they want," says Salma al-Majidi, the first Arab and Sudanese woman to coach a men's football team in the Arab world. By @DeshmukhJay and Abdelmoneim Abu Idris Ali https://t.co/bKX4qy0grf pic.twitter.com/CrcVYMv9Pv— AFP Features (@AFPfeature) April 3, 2018
Acknowledged by FIFA as the first Arab and Sudanese woman to coach a men's football team, al-Majidi started dreaming about a career in football at the age of 16. Confident that what a man can do a woman can also do, she approached a coach in charge of a boys’ team and asked to work with him.
Speaking with AFP, she said:
“At the end of every training session, I discussed with him the techniques he used to coach the boys. He saw I had a knack for coaching and gave me a chance to work with him.”
From there, she started coaching under-13 and under-16 teams. Now at 27, not only does she have the CAF "B" badge – meaning she can coach any first league team across the continent – she has coached four Sudanese men's clubs so far. Two of the clubs even topped local leagues under her coaching.
Determined to succeed, al-Majidi looks forward to coaching an international team someday. Having broken down barriers, who says she can’t? Her participation in football is already sending a strong message to men in Sudan.