The World Cup and African Women

Given male dominance in African politics and soccer, any chance to improve the state of the sport that might arise from the 2010 World Cup will most likely benefit men. Until brought to a level where they can compete in international tournaments beyond Africa, women’s soccer teams on the continent will continue to struggle.

NAIROBI – When I was born, 25 years ago, it would have been rare – even taboo – to find African women discussing soccer. But that is what my girlfriends and I now do.

I grew up in Kenya, where my compatriots follow the English Premier League zealously, perhaps because of our colonial connection to England. Kenyans are so passionate about the Premier League that last year an Arsenal fan, Suleiman Omondi, hanged himself after his team lost to Manchester United. This year, another Arsenal fan in the coastal town of Lamu stabbed a Manchester United fan in the stomach.

Kenyan women love soccer, too. I’m a Chelsea fan, and so are most of my girlfriends. We rarely disagree. We console each other when Chelsea loses, and worry together when our team plays big clubs, like recently when they played Liverpool, the only major contender that stood between Chelsea and the English title. Fortunately, Chelsea won.

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