Stoke City FC (Women)
Sarah Essam Hassanin
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Striker / Winger
9 Stoke City FC (Women)
10 Egypt National team
Wadi Degla SC (Women)
Stoke City FC (Women)
Sarah Essam 20 years old Egyptian female footballer. Travelled to UK on 2017 and was the first Egyptian to play in the UK. Won Arab women of the year award 2018 by London Organization. Won Golden boot for Stoke City last season. Won league promotion with Derby Uni Women’s football team (BUCS) and was the top goal scorer too.
How important is football for you?
Football is everything to me and it’s my whole life. I sacrificed a lot just to chase my dreams and left my family, friends, country at 18 years old just to look out for opportunities in UK where women’s football is appreciated and professional. For a teenager to sacrifice from lots of things just to follow a dream that a lot of people didn’t believe an Arab woman can achieve was hard.
Sarah, you signing for Stoke City at the age of 18. How did you get a contract with Stoke City? And who helped you the most?
I have been to trials with few clubs and didn’t have any agents/connections within UK and didn’t even knew how the system works here as we all know Egypt and England are different cultures and have different systems. Me and my sister were looking for opportunities and she has been there for me all the time and believed in me and left everything just to travel with me and make sure i get into a club and study my dream major which is Civil Engineering at the university. I chose Stoke out of other clubs at that time because Ramadan Sobhy was in the men’s first team squad when Stoke were in the premier league and the club is very very popular in all Arab countries so it was a great decision that my sister and family helped me to take. Also when I trailed with the team I knew my football and my level of football can help the team and this is the most important thing, to help the team in games and progress. For me as a new comer to the country the first step was always the hardest but still the most important, i had to stay strong mentally and physically and i struggled a lot in things I don’t want to mention and until now there’s a little challenges I’m facing but I keep working on myself and hopefully it pays off like it did before.
You are the first Egyptian girl to played in the UK Premier League. How important was that moment for you ?
It was amazing of course to be in Egypt women’s football history and to open more opportunities to more young Arab female athletes is a hug honour for me and most importantly to give them hope cause when I was younger all we could hear from other is “you can’t play in Europe you’re not good enough” or “how come you play football it’s men’s game” so i had to start by myself and not listen to others and work hard and at the same time it makes me want to challenge for more and achieve more always. I’m not satisfied yet and I’m grateful to play in UK but I’m ambitions and I’m doing whatever it takes just to keep chasing my dream and make my country and family proud.
You also played for the Egypt’s national first team. What was it like to join the national football team of Egypt?
Yes I was picked for the u17 world cup qualifiers in 2016 and started al friendlies/official games, then I was also picked after that in the first team when i was just 16 years old and played in the African cup of nations 2016 qualifications and after that the FA have not participated in the women’s national team until this day. Unfortunately it’s a shame but since the British Ambassador in Egypt and the minister of youth and sports in Egypt honoured me for my achievements in UK they then promised to bring back the national team and they had hope that there could be many more of Egyptian females can play abroad. The president Al sisi then mentioned in his speech few months ago to the FA members “We must have a women’s football national team” and that’s it now no matter who the new members of the FA are but since the president mentioned it, nobody can ever be an aware of our national team again. Note that the Women’s premier league in Egypt didn’t stop and is played normally. 2 months ago they brought back u20 national team and that’s a good sign but I’m 1999 so I wasn’t eligible but we are supposed to have first team national team camp in the Summer.
What were your highs and lows during your football career?
Of course had lot of lows but I was prepared mentally for anything and every-time it gets so hard I tell myself that I chose this and I sacrificed for this and won’t be proud of myself later if I gave up. The highs are very motivating but at the same time for me as Sarah I’m never satisfied and always hungry for more.
What is the one change you’d like to see in the women’s game over the next 10 years?
Good question, to treat all women’s football teams same as men’s and by that i mean the facilities, the budgets etc. and secondly… to help my National team play in the world cup Red heart
Sarah, what are your personal goals for the rest of this season?
Keep helping my team win and keep improving myself and utilizing every training and match to become better and learn from my mistakes so it can help me later to achieve my ambitions.
What is your ultimate dream for your football career ?
Help my national team qualify for the World, to play in Champions league and to play in bigger clubs in UK.