The “It’s My Game” campaign by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) continues this week with new videos highlighting exceptional women playing football and working in the game across the Continent. The campaign celebrates women’s contribution to Asian football and emphasises their varied roles within it, illustrating football as a career option for women and girls.
The series of new videos features women’s football stars from different parts of Asia who play at the top of the game internationally, such as Korea Republic international Ji So-yun who plays as a midfielder for Chelsea FC Women in the FA Women’s Super League in England. In addition, the campaign highlights powerful stories by women who have carved a profession in football against all obstacles.
The first country from West Asia to host the AFC Women’s Asian Cup earlier this year, Jordan, is represented by national team forward Stephanie Al Naber who plays for Shabab Al Ordon Club and midfielder Shahnaz Jebreen whose club is Amman SC.
Jordan’s Shahnaz Jebreen said: “At the beginning, many people were against girls playing because football is for boys. But if you have a talent for football you should use it.”
Stephanie Al Naber echoed: “If you love the game, you’re passionate about it, pursue your dreams, pursue your goals. Don’t let anyone stop you.”
Australia is represented by two players who compete in the National Women’s Soccer League in the United States: AFC Women’s Player of the Year 2017 and national team and Chicago Red Stars forward Samantha Kerr and Katrina Gorry, Matildas and Utah Royals FC midfielder.
Katrina Gorry from Australia highlights the gender pay gap: “The pay isn’t as good as for the men, yet. But it’s going in the right direction.”
Her teammate Samantha Kerr agrees: “It’s not an easy road to get to the top. You need to work hard and always give your best.”
Philippines and De La Salle University midfielder Sara Castañeda talks about the sacrifices you make as a young player, not seeing your friends and family for long periods of time.
The women featured in the videos share the difficulties they have had, and continue to have, as women in football, and how they overcame the obstacles. These challenges vary across countries, but they are still a reality across the Continent.
Showcasing other career paths in football, Sapna Rani from India talks passionately about her devotion and hard work to enter and stay in the game: “I started as a volunteer and then became the first female referee in Delhi. With a lot of training a got slip disk but I didn’t want to leave football. It was a dream for me to work for the All India Football Federation and now I am the Women’s Football Manager.”
Other women included in the new videos, furthering women’s football across Asia as coaches, are Rhoda Bamba from Guam and Rahaf Kroom for Syria.
In a separate video, internationally known women’s rights activist and former Afghanistan national team player Khalida Popalzai speaks about the serious threats she faced in her home country as a girl playing football. She had to flee as a refugee and is now working with the Afghanistan women’s national team as the Programme and Event Director.
The It’s My Game campaign started on March 8 this year, on the AFC Women’s Football Day. So far, it has garnered a total reach of 497,752 on the AFC’s digital platforms, with 271,905 impressions and 240,571 video views.
AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said: “We celebrate the women who work for the betterment of Asian football in our Member Associations, driven by their passion for the game. As the AFC strives to fulfill its vision of excellence, we cannot afford to ignore the vital contribution women make, on and off the pitch.
“Asia is the world’s biggest football stadium and women and girls are an important part of the future success of the game in the Continent. Fulfilling Asia’s football potential is possible only if it includes everyone: women, men, boys and girls.
“I trust that the It’s My Game campaign will encourage girls across Asia to see football as a viable future career option.”