Cameroon’s Gabrielle Onguene (7) and Jeannette Yango (10) celebrate a goal against Switzerland during the first half of a FIFA #Women‘s World Cup soccer match on Tuesday.
Cameroon Coach Enow Ngachu said his team’s surprising run through group play and into the second round of the World Cup is having a profound impact back home, where opportunities for #women in sports have remained limited by societal and cultural traditions.
“Africa is not like the European countries. It’s very complicated in Africa,” Ngachu said Friday before his team’s final training session for Saturday’s elimination game with China. “At times they don’t allow women in football. But with the results we’re having, just today I received about 50 messages of young girls interested to play soccer.”
That was exactly the kind of message World Cup organizers were hoping to deliver when they expanded the tournament field to 24 teams this year, allowing emerging teams such as Cameroon to qualify for the first time. But Ngachu’s team is hardly a charity case. In the last four years Cameroon made its debut in the Olympic soccer tournament and finished in the top three at the last two African Championships.
In this tournament Ngachu said his players have been taking inspiration from the 1990 men’s team, which upset Argentina in its World Cup opener and went on to become the first African team to reach the quarterfinals, a performance Cameroon can match with a win over China.