Right to Dream’s Fuseina Mumuni has been reflecting on her appearance in the Fifa Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica, after Ghana’s Black Maidens exited the tournament at the quarter-final stage.
Mumuni made history by becoming the first RtD Academy pupil to represent Ghana at a Fifa World Cup and was also named as the youngest player at the tournament, at the age of 12.
The Wa-born player was part of the Ghana squad that breezed through a tough group that included North Korea, Germany and Canada.
“It was a dream come true to go to the World Cup. I had many experiences that I know will have helped my football and character development,” Mumuni told Goal Ghana.
“I had to change my style of play to suit the team’s playing style. The weather in Alabama in the US [the Black Maidens’ pre-tournament base] was also very cold, which took a while to get used to. We stayed there for about two weeks and played some friendly matches, and I got the chance to play in one of them.
“When we arrived in Costa Rica, the older girls in the team played the first game against North Korea and we won. The weather and food was similar to Ghana so it really felt like home.”
The Black Maidens eventually lost 4-3 on penalties to Italy in the quarter-finals, despite a spirited performance that saw them draw 2-2 in regulation time. As the youngest player in the Ghana team, the combative midfielder said she had a lot of catching up to do.
Mumuni reflected: “When I heard I was the youngest player at the tournament, it suddenly dawned on me that I needed to work harder to catch up with the older girls. I always tried my best, no matter the situation.
“As they say, football is played with the mind and not age. I decided that if I was the youngest at the tournament, I was going to do my utmost to help and support the team even if I don’t get the chance to play.
“I was interviewed more than 10 times by the media – the attention was a new experience for me. And, of course, it was a shame not to get the chance to prove myself in one of the tournament matches but, with hard work, I know my time will come.”
Despite not making an appearance in the tournament, the youngster is taking a lot of positives from her experience and is looking forward to the next tournament.
“The coach told me that he brought me to the tournament to have a feel of what it takes to play in a big tournament,” she said, adding: “He said there were a lot of players who needed to play in their first U-17 tournament before making the step to the U-20s.”
“For me, I think I have gained a lot of experience being with the team and look forward to the next tournament.”
Mumuni’s national call-up comes just 10 months after Right to Dream, in partnership with Tullow Oil, established Africa’s first residential girls’ football academy, in May 2013. The girls’ academy provides the pupils, who are drawn from underprivileged backgrounds, with an opportunity to develop their potential through a unique programme of education, character and football.
Mumuni is confident she has opened up opportunities for other RtD girls with her appearance at the tournament.
“Yes, I think so. Even if I did not get a chance to play, I always did something that many people will remember. I always did something different when we went to stadium.
“In Alabama and during our time in Costa Rica, anytime we returned from training I made sure I found a way to help out. For instance, carrying the team ice-chest – anything I could to support the squad.
“I’m more experienced now than my colleagues at the Academy. I think everybody in the team noticed I was different from the other girls in terms of my character,” she concluded.