…defying traditional rule to play and coach women’s football in Africa
Women’s football started in Africa in the early 1970s with Senegal and South Africa leading the pace. Until recently, women’s football in the continent was a very small enterprise compared to men’s football.
In the course of this development, many African amazons have distinguished themselves as legends and trailblazers to be reckoned with, among which are:
Florence Omagbemi –Nigeria
Florence Omagbemi, the ex-Super Falcons’ midfield marshal was born on February 2, 1975. She captained Nigeria to the Women’s World Cup quarter-final in 1999, the country’s best finish to date.
As a player, Omagbemi won the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations four times (1998, 2000, 2002 and 2004).
She is the first Africa woman to have won the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations as player and as a coach when she guided the Super Falcons to win the trophy in 2016 in Cameroon.
Omagbemi began her coaching career with several American based youth teams, before being called up to be the assistant coach for the Nigeria women’s national under-20 football team.
Desiree Ellis – South Africa
Desiree Ellis was born in Salt River, Cape Town, South Africa on March 14, 1963. She is a founding member of the Banyana -Banyana and the second captain of the national team.
Ellis coached her nation to their first title when they beat hosts Morocco in the final of the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in front of 50,000-plus fans.
She is currently the CAF Women’s Coach of the Year
A lifelong athlete, she recalls playing a variety of sports at school, but football was always her favourite.
As a child, she could be found playing in the streets with her cousins almost daily.
Victoria Conteh- Sierra Leone
Victoria Conteh made history after becoming the first woman to be named a coach over a Sierra Leone men’s Premier League side.
The 45-year-old tactician is the only female coach in her country to have bagged CAF ‘A’ license.
Conteh had previously managed her country’s national under-20 women’s team and the Sierra Leone Police Women’s outfit.
She is only the second woman in Africa to have managed a high-ranking men’s side after Mesert Manni.
“My target is to make history by becoming the first woman coach to win the top-flight. I’m determined to do what some of the men’s coaches can’t do,” Conteh said.
Mercy Tagoe- Ghana
Mercy Tagoe was born on February 5, 1978 in Takoradi, the Western part of Ghana.
Tagoe started her professional football at the age of 23 with supreme ladies club in Ghana where she was an integral member of the team due to her talented defensive skills and the confidence she exhibited both on and off the pitch.
Tagoe was a pioneer in Ghana’s women’s national team, and the players made history in 1999 when they qualified Ghana to the FIFA Women’s World Cup in the USA. She again featured in the 2003 Women’s World Cup.
She stood against all odds to create a household name for herself in the football cycle in Ghana.
“The environment in which I lived played a major role in making that decision to change my life.
You see, I was the only girl among my siblings so the only sport that was common around me was football. I use to play with my siblings,” she said.
She won the Women WAFU tournament with the Black Queens in Cote d’Ivoire in 2018.
Marvis Appiah – Ghana
Mavis Anane Appiah, aged 26, is the head coach of Dc United, a division two league side in Brong Ahafo region of Ghana.
Despite having studied coaching as part of her BSc degree in Physical Education, which she completed at the University of Education, Winneba, and possessing a CAF coaching licence C, Appiah says it was not easy to land the job.
“Here in Ghana you see men coaching men’s football and men coaching women’s football. But I decided to change the trend,” she told FIFA.com
Melle Radia Al-Majidi- Algeria
Melle Radia Fertoul was born on December, 18, 1974. Fertoul has been Algeria’s national women’s team head coach since August 2018.
In the latest FIFA women’s rankings, the team is ranked 80th overall, the country’s best FIFA ranking was 64, and that was in 2009.
Fertoul has been dedicated and determined to see that Algeria’s flag is always among others at the international women’s soccer scene.
On May 14, 1998, Algeria faced France in its inaugural game, which it lost 14-0. No woman from Algeria has ever made it to a World Cup.
It has five times reached the group stage of the Africa Women Cup of Nations, in 2004, 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018.
Read also: 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in numbers
Salma Al-Majidi – Sudan
Salma Al-Majidi was born in 1990 in Omdurman, a Sudanese city with the two biggest football clubs. She holds a degree in Accountancy and Management Studies from Al Nasr Technical College.
Al-Majidi began coaching the under-13 and under-16 teams of the Al-Hilal club in Omdurman. She has also coached Sudanese second league men’s clubs, including Al-Nasr, Al-Nahda, Nile Halfa and Al-Mourada
She is acknowledged by FIFA, as the first Arab and Sudanese woman to coach a men’s football team. In December 2015, she was noted in BBC Arabic’s 100 inspirational women of the year.
Ethiopia’s Meseret Manni became the first woman to manage a top-flight men’s football club in Africa.
She qualified Dire Dawa City for the Ethiopian Premier League in the 2014/15 season, and coached them to finish 11th in the 2015–16 season and avoided relegation.