Philippines women’s national team players Sara Castañeda and Inna Palacios appear in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC)’s “It’s My Game” campaign, which continues this week with videos highlighting exceptional women playing football and working in the game across the Continent.
De La Salle University midfielder Sara Castañeda talks about the sacrifices she has had to make as a young player: “The biggest obstacle is being away from family and not having time off, not being able to go on vacation. But football is a time when you can just let go of everything and just enjoy the game.”
The campaign celebrates women’s contribution to Asian football and emphasises their varied roles within it, illustrating football as a career option for women and girls. In addition to featuring top-class players, the campaign celebrates women’s contribution to Asian football and emphasises their varied roles within it, illustrating football as a career
option for women and girls. Filipino referee Merlo Silva Albano also appears in the campaign videos.
Sara Castañeda and Inna Palacios helped their national team to qualify to the AFC Women’s Asian Cup for the first time this year, which was played in April in Jordan, the first West Asian host country in the history of the tournament.
The series of new videos features women’s football stars from different parts of Asia who play at the top of the game internationally, such as Korea Republic international Ji So-yun, two-time Women’s FA Cup winner with Chelsea FC Women in England. The campaign highlights powerful stories by women who have carved a profession in football against all obstacles.
The It’s My Game campaign started on March 8 this year, on the AFC Women’s Football Day. So far, it has garnered a total reach of 497,752 on the AFC’s digital platforms, with 271,905 impressions and 240,571 video views.
AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said: “We celebrate the women who work for the betterment of Asian football in our Member Associations, driven by their passion for the game. As the AFC strives to fulfil its vision of excellence, we cannot afford to ignore the vital contribution women make, on and off the pitch.
“Asia is the world’s biggest football stadium and women and girls are an important part of the future success of the game in the Continent. Fulfilling Asia’s football potential is possible only if it includes everyone: women, men, boys and girls.
“I trust that the It’s My Game campaign will encourage girls across Asia to see football as a viable future career option.”
The women featured in the videos share the difficulties they have had, and continue to have, as women in football, and how they overcame the obstacles. These challenges vary across countries, but they are still a reality across the Continent.
The first country from West Asia to host the AFC Women’s Asian Cup earlier this year, Jordan, is represented in the campaign by national team forward Stephanie Al Naber who plays for Shabab Al Ordon Club and midfielder Shahnaz Jebreen whose club is Amman SC.
Jordan’s Shahnaz Jebreen said: “At the beginning, many people were against girls playing because football is for boys. But if you have a talent for football you should use it.”
Stephanie Al Naber echoed: “If you love the game, you’re passionate about it, pursue your dreams, pursue your goals. Don’t let anyone stop you.”
Australia is represented by two players who compete in the National Women’s Soccer League in the United States: AFC Women’s Player of the Year 2017 and national team and Chicago Red Stars forward Samantha Kerr and Katrina Gorry, Matildas and Utah Royals FC midfielder.
Katrina Gorry from Australia highlights the gender pay gap: “The pay isn’t as good as for the men, yet. But it’s going in the right direction.”
Her teammate Samantha Kerr agrees: “It’s not an easy road to get to the top. You need to work hard and always give your best.”