Awa Diakhaté: Senegal star dreams Women's World Cup ticket

Awa Diakhate

When asked what advice she wants to give to her compatriots wanting to play football and the Senegalese star Awa Diakhate, who is dreaming a FIFA Women's World Cup qualification ticket urges them to follow their passion.

“We have to do what we love the most because I am convinced that it is easier to succeed there because we are ready for all the sacrifices,” said the Senegalese player who transferred to France last November.

On her career journey, she recalls: "I was in Saint-Louis far from my family, I lived through difficult times but I gritted my teeth because I was doing what I loved the most, that is, football.

"And also, I suffered two serious injuries but I treated myself and I moved forward to live my passion," she said, stressing that the Senegalese women's football community is moving in the right direction.

At first, some thought it would be the end of my career when I decided to get married, but it's quite the opposite, I feel more fulfilled and I plan to start a family, and have children. Awa Diakhate

Combining professional football with marital life is considered an obstacle to her growth as a woman, but she insists that she is married and coping well.

"The next step is to start a family," said French side Le Puy Foot player, who is married to a retired footballer now turned a football coach.

"Football is also a means of social advancement and it has no impact on women, but on the contrary, it gives you wealth and health.

''At first, some thought it would be the end of my career when I decided to get married, but it's quite the opposite, I feel more fulfilled and I plan to start a family, and have children.

''Yes, I got married and I'm going to have children please God, in France a lot of players come to the stadium with their families and that's the best thing and people have to understand that'', said the playmaker, who powered Lionesses back to WAFCON.

Senegal - Mali - WAFCON Qualifiers

When asked how she started in football, the Senegalese no 10, who led the Lionesses to the 2020 WAFU Zone A Women's Championship success recalls being bitten by the virus as a kid.

"It's in my blood, at home, everyone plays football, my brothers and sisters and one of my sisters are in France where she plays football", continued the 25-year-old midfielder.

"I often played with the guys in Richard-Toll and it was during my holidays in Rufisque (30 km from Dakar) that I played professional football," she said, recalling that at the start, it is far from having been a long calm river.

"My parents always refused, my father being a religious leader and you can imagine his embarrassment when his friends tell him that his daughters play football with boys," she said, noting that the mother saw their passions with a very bad eye.

"But as they understood that the best way is to supervise us, they resolved to let us go," she recalled, stressing the progress achieved by her older sister, Bineta Diakhaté, who joined the national team, and ended up convincing his parents.

"And, they noticed that playing football had no bearing on our femininity and our household chores," she said.

Starting up at AFA before Dakar Sacré Cœur, whom she represented WAFU A qualifiers for TotalEnergies Women's Champions League last July in Cape Verde.

Senegal - Mali - WAFCON Qualifiers 2

And on hardfought Morocco 2022 qualification, she said went on to say: "The return of Senegal to the WAFCON, is a beautiful gift after the many sacrifices made during all these years".

The Teranga Lionesses are pitted in Group A alongside hosts nation Morocco, Uganda and debutants Burkina Faso as they begin their preliminary stage campaign against the East Africans at the 12-nation tournament.

Unlike Senegal coach Mame Moussa Cisse, who eyes the second round spot, Diakhate aims more for a 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup ticket.

"There is quality in this group, there are professionals like in the other teams," she said, stressing that Senegal will respect everyone but fear no one.

“We are going to put all the chances on our side”, she added, recalling her struggles with the weather on her debut in France.

“I arrived in November but I got stronger,” she said, stressing that she had made sacrifices to get to this level.

To young girls and their families in Senegal, Diakhaté reminds them that football is not stumbling block to beginning a family life.

"It has become easier and we must salute the efforts made by the Federation in this direction," she pledges to offer good representation for Senegal in Morocco.