Ghana through the years has been fortunate to have talented women footballers don her colors.
Women’s football in Ghana has seen dwindling fortunes these past few years. However the players remain resilient in their efforts to carve a name for themselves at home or internationally whiles playing abroad.
One of such hard working players is none other than ELIZABETH ADDO aka AMA PELE,who was gracious enough to grant Africa Women’s Football a hearty interview.
AWF: Finally Elizabeth,we get to have this conversation after all (laughs). Thank you very much.
EA: Yes,(chuckles) It’s a pleasure.
AWF: Your fans back home and around the world will like to know who Elizabeth Addo is, especially how you came by the moniker AMA PELE.Can you tell us a little bit about yourself ?
EA: Well,Obviously they know my name- Elizabeth Addo. I am 23 years old from Ghana. I have six brothers and I am the only girl. I grew up in Accra Newtown, a suburb called Akotex. I am a professional footballer currently with KIK FC Damallsvenken in Sweden. The nickname AMA PELE was given to me by my brother and his friends when i was 4 years old. They organized a 1v1 game for 4 boys and being the only female,i did not want to be left out so i joined them. That day, i beat all the boys to the amazement of everyone there. One of my brother’s friends started chanting the name AMA PELE in excitement and the small crowd joined in. From that day everyone calls me Ama Pele to this day.
AWF: Interesting. Now we know who AMA PELE is. Having started playing football at a tender age of 4,did you encounter any challenges ?
EA: I encountered many challenges. For starters, i used to play football barefooted because there was no way i could afford cleats. I walked over 8 miles from home to practice and walk back . There were times i had to go hawking foodstuff in the streets to make a little money to buy my school supplies, then go to school on an empty stomach and an empty pocket. It was a struggle but i’m grateful to God and to all who helped me along they way. God bless them all.
AWF: With all the obstacles you faced in your early years,why did you stick with playing football, what was your source of motivation ?
EA: I didn’t choose football. Football chose me. You know, I love the sport so much and coming from a poor home. Football gave me a way out to pursue my dream even though I had to stop schooling. I gather so much motivation from the Bible. That is were i get my strength.I believe God gave me the skill to play football for a reason and I work very hard each day to be better than i was the day before.
AWF: So how many clubs have you played for in your early years as a professional footballer and along the line did you look up to any of the Ghanaian female players who played before you ?
EA: I started with Tesano Ladies,then i played for Ashaiman Ladies. I had the opportunity to play for River Angels in Nigeria. later on I played for ZFK Spartak for a few months in Serbia, then Ferencvaros in Hangary and now playing for KIK here in Sweden. Well in terms of the Ghanaian players before me like Adjoa Bayor,Memuna Darko,Sheila Okine and a host of others, although i like them all, i didn’t look up to them as role models intrinsically. I was more drawn to Zinedine Zidane. I watched many of his clips and i really study his style of play. i admire him a lot.
AWF: Don’t go headbutting if you get what i mean.(laughter) We all love Zidane.
EA: No I will not headbutt anyone.I love his game (laughs)
AWF:What are some of the changes you would like to see in women’s football in Ghana and in Africa.
EA: I will love to see more sponsorship and investments into women’s football in Ghana. I will love to see an improvement in how women’s football is handled. Some improvement in the women’s league wont hurt at all. Women’s football should be treated fairly. On the continent it will be nice to organize women’s champions league football like in Europe. We need that exposure too. I think the number of competing countries at the Africa women’s championship(AWC) should be increased from 8 to 16.
AWC: You are a well traveled player yet I know there is bound to be times when you feel home sick. How do you cope with life in Sweden and what do you do in your spare time ?
EA: I do feel home sick sometimes but as a professional i handle such situations by remaining focused on my job. I use my down time in watching movies,relaxing while listening to some soothing music or reading.
AWF: Where do you see African women’s football in the not so distant future and what are your dreams and aspirations ?
EA: African female footballers are very talented. Most of us made something out of nothing. We didn’t have the luxury of playing on nice pitches or playing in football boots but we play with pride. If our administrators and handlers treat women’s football like they treat our men,I see us breaking into the top 10 in the world. We have what it takes to get there. Personally, I want to play for one of the biggest women’s football clubs in Europe and hopefully win the UEFA women’s champions league trophy.
AWC: Any words of encouragement to your fans back home and around the world.
EA:I will take this opportunity to thank all my fans for their support and prayers. I will encourage them to believe in themselves and be confident and focused on their goals. To the young players out there, I want them to set the sky as their limit,dream big,work hard and never give up on their dreams. I thank my teams mates past and present for all their support.
AWC: Thank you Elizabeth “Ama Pele” Addo, for talking to us. It has been a lively conversation and we will definitely love to talk to you again. We wish you all the best.
EA: The pleasure is all mine. Thank you for the opportunity.