JILLIAN ANGELINE / AIPS* in AMMAN —- A female FIFA president is possible in the near future. Just ask Isha Johansen, president of the Sierra Leone Football Association.
“It’s going to happen,” Johansen told a media briefing shortly before the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup final at the Amman International Stadium in Jordan.
“That is 100pc confirmation, I will tell you. It will happen. It’s not a question of will it, it’s just a matter of when.”
Johansen said that only four years ago, few observers would have expected a female secretary-general. Now Fatma Samoura holds that position of power after her appointment in May. A FIFA female president should be next.
“Everything has a beginning and I think we will see that happening one day,” said Johansen, who is a power in her own right after having become, in 2013, only the second woman ever to head a national association.
She also owns a National League Premier Club, FC Johansen, in Sierra Leone, which she started for orphaned children.
Despite her success and her push for women in sport in Africa, the SLFA president regretted that female African teams were still regarded as ‘token’ and lacked a solid backbone of support.
She explained: “[I mean] token in the sense that we participate because it’s good to have the two or three African teams.” However the necessary supporting systems and structures were still lacking.
Johansen said: “It is something that is worrying because when it comes to talent, there is no two ways about it, Africa has got talent — and it’s God given talent. But having talent is only one thing.”
She was pleased to see African teams represented in the U17 Women’s World Cup and other competitions but was disappointed that none had made it to the final – though “that time will come.”
Johansen was encouraged from her visit to Amman to see that, despite cultural and religious issues, women could reach out to succeed in a male-dominated environment. Women in Africa faced similar issues and she described her own trek as “not an easy journey.”
FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who also attended the U-17 final, promised last week to invest significantly more resources into promoting the women’s game through a new division being led by New Zealander Sarai Bareman.
** AIPS is the international sports journalists’ association with 10,000 members worldwide – currently holding a Young Reporters graduation course in at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan 2016. More information: www.AIPSmedia.com
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