Interviewed by Sarah Ahmed
Here in Egypt, people might have different political, cultural and social views, but one thing that they will never disagree on is their love for football. Recently, people have been making waves when it comes to football –as many Egyptian football players are killing it abroad. To name a few of the great players making us proud, Egypt’s pride Mohamed Salah at Liverpool, El-Neny at Arsenal, and Ramadan Sobhy at Stoke City.
Let’s pause a little.These players aren’t the only Egyptian footballers making history. People need to know that we’ve got one more player in the Premier League: her name is Sarah Essam. This amazing ninteen-year-old is the first female Egyptian footballer to play in the Women’s Premier League, and,unsurprisingly, she’s slaying it. We talk to the talented Sarah about her experience with Stoke City, and how challenging it is to be a female football player in Egypt.
“I am a huge Al Ahly fan, and I would love to play for them, but unfortunately,they don’t have a female team”
This might come as a surprise: Sarah started her athletic career as a basketball player in Wadi Degla. “Basketball wasn’t the game for me. I have always had a dream to play abroad, and football was the key for me to achieving this dream,” she says.
Her first step in football was joining the youth team at Wadi Degla, and then she got promoted to the senior squad. Hard work does really pay off. Sarah played for Egypt’s National Team during the African Cup qualifiers at the age of sixteen, and signed for Stoke City at the age of eighteen. “Football has been my number one passion from a very young age; I loved playing football with my brother and his friends,” she says. Mo Salah is not the only football player on a roll, Sarah won in 2018 the Goal of the Month competition for her strike against Pelsall Villa.
Sarah has sacrificed a lot to maintain her dedication to the game. “I gave up my social life, and of course, I had to endure people’s negative comments, but I didn’t let that prevent me from reaching my goal,” she says. Studying civil engineering and playing in the Premier League, Sarah thinks balancing between both is key. “I am obliged to make the balance between education and football, because I love them both equally and I want to succeed in both fields,” she says.
“I want people to pay more attention to female football teams in Egypt.There are incredible talents that deserve recognition”
The idea of a girl playing football might not be something people accustom themselves to, especially in Egypt. “My family wasn’t convinced with me playing football.My mom often told me to look for a more “girly” game to play. However, when they saw how serious I was moving towards achieving my goal theybecame my number one fans,” she says. Fun fact: Sarah comes from a family of football players.Her brother was the goalkeeper at El Mokawloon Sporting Club –Mo Salah’s previous team.
Stoke city is just the first destination to achieving her goal. Sarah dreams of playing in FC Barcelona one day. “I am a huge Al Ahly fan, and I would love to play for them, but unfortunately,they don’t have a female team.Hopefully they will realize the power of female football players, and create one in the near future,” she says.
“I want people to pay more attention to female football teams in Egypt.There are incredible talents that deserve recognition. They need to start cheering for the female football team.We represent Egypt and bring back awards too,” she says.