Little star aims to shine bright on big stage

Ghana midfielder Fuseina Mumuni cuts a modest and unassuming figure on the field, dwarfed as she is by most of her team-mates. The fresh-faced Mumuni may seem an unlikely candidate to enter the FIFA annals, but that is exactly what will happen if she takes the field over the coming few weeks at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica. Somewhat remarkably, Mumuni is yet to celebrate her thirteenth birthday.

Mumuni will do so in early April, and with coach Evans Adotey singing the youngsters’ praises, she seems certain to earn selection and break the record for the youngest player at any FIFA tournament. The current mark is held by Sainey Sissohore of Gambia who, at 13 years and eight months, was positively old in comparison when she took the field at Azerbaijan 2012.

Up close the youngster looks every bit her tender years, yet she speaks with a rare level of maturity for one so young. So was she shocked to receive a national team call-up with the challenge of taking on the world’s best? “Actually for me it is the first step on my goal to becoming a professional footballer,” Mumuni tells with an endearing mix of driven ambition and raw passion.

The first step is indeed a considerable one. Ghana will open their campaign on Saturday against former champions and 2012 runners-up Korea DPR. Mumuni hopes to take her place in the heart of the midfield where she lists dribbling and scoring goals as her key attributes. So will she try and score on the biggest stage of all? “Yeah why not,” Mumuni says with a cheeky smile and a giggle.

New avenue of talent
Mumuni currently does both her schooling and football at the highly-regarded Right to Dream Academy not far from the Ghanaian capital of Accra. She is among a new crop of female attendees following the opening of the girls’ programme last year in what was a breakthrough initiative for the future growth of women’s football in Africa.

Ghana are invariably participants at the FIFA Women’s World Cup™, while two years ago at Azerbaijan 2012 they became the first African team to reach the semi-finals of the U-17 Women’s World Cup, going all the way to the semi-finals. Considering these achievements, combined with young talents such as Mumuni, the future certainly seems bright for Ghana.

It is hard to imagine a more challenging task than that facing Ghana, with Germany and Canada looming as Group B opponents, following their upcoming meeting with the Koreans. However, coach Adotey is most certainly a believer in his current crop of players telling “I’m 100 per cent sure we will go to the same level as last time (third-place at Azerbaijan 2012), or beyond that.”