A few weeks after the kick-off of the first women’s football championship in Sudan, the new football stars have become models of emancipation for Sudanese women in a country in transition to a civilian government.
19-year-old Orjuan Essam and 22-year-old Rayan Rajab of the Tahadi club in Khartoum scored several goals in a tournament unthinkable just a few months ago when the country was led by Omar al-Bashir.
« I am very happy to see that the authoritarian regime is giving way to a civilian government and that women’s rights can finally come to fruition, » Orjuan Essam, who trains at a stadium in Khartoum, told AFP. hair in the wind.
Sudan, which joined FIFA in 1948, was one of the pioneers of football in Africa and co-founder in Khartoum in 1957 of the African Football Confederation (CAF).
But after the adoption by the country in 1983 of Islamic law, whose women were among the great victims, women’s football remained non-existent.
On April 11, after leading the country with an iron fist for 30 years, Omar al-Bashir was deposed by the army under the pressure of an unprecedented protest movement.
A Sovereign Council was set up in August with the mission of organizing the transition to a civilian government, as protesters demanded, and the new Constitution does not consider Islam as a defining characteristic of the state.
« We really need it »
The new Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok has promised to defend the rights of women.
They have been at the forefront of anti-Bashir demonstrations, expressing their anger after centuries of patriarchy and laws restricting their role in society.
In November, the new authorities repealed a law of public order against Sudanese women found guilty of « indecent and immoral acts ».
Under Bashir, thousands of Sudanese women have been sentenced to heavy fines and flogged for « indecent behavior » or drinking.
Today, the women’s football championship is seen as a symbol of the improvement of their rights.
For Orjuan Essam, midfielder, this shows that women can not be reduced to « raising children and doing housework ».
But insists this Sudanese, who reads the Koran every morning and wants to become a dentist, football remains a hobby.
For teammate Rayan Rajab, the championship is the best thing that has happened in Sudan.
« We really need it, » said the striker, promising to score goals in every game. « I hope to become a professional player abroad and come back to play for Sudan if I’m selected for the next World Cup. »
Since the start of the championship on September 30, the two players have been admired by the public, newspapers disseminating their photos in sports pages.
They still manage to find a parry with each stroke of their opponents, said their delighted coach Ahmed al-Fakki.
« Their goals speak for themselves, they were great goals, » he adds, as Rayan Rajab juggles a ball behind him.
The two young women feel that they owe their new glory to understanding parents.
The father of Orjuan Essam, himself a football fan, is his best supporter, she says.
« Women are now competing with men in all areas. They even take ministerial posts, « said his father, Essam al-Sayed, a banker, referring to women recently appointed to the government.
Rayan Rajab became interested in football from an early age, playing with his brothers. « My parents did not mind, they encouraged me to play sports. »
With the success of the championship and the remarkable achievements of the two young women, the organizers of the tournament, which has 21 clubs, hope to find other talents.
« We convinced the Ministry of Education to open schools for girls’ training, and we contacted FIFA to help open the game to children, » said Fakki.
The talents of the two young stars of Tahadi however remain exceptional according to him.
« Orjuan and Rayan are capable of becoming professional footballers. I advise them to become one to show that there is talent in Sudan. Only professionals can help develop the sport « .