- Gaelle Enganamouit shone at Canada 2015
- She hopes Cameroon can do even better in 2019
- Recently opened a women’s football academy in Yaounde
This June, Cameroon will make their second appearance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup™, four years after their remarkable debut in Canada, where Gaelle Enganamouit was the side’s driving force.
"I was very proud to take part in that World Cup because it was a first [for us]. It’s what every footballer dreams of. It’s also been positive for Cameroon, for Africa in general and for me in particular,” Enganamouit told FIFA.com.
The Indomitable Lionesses announced their arrival on the big stage by tearing apart Ecuador 6-0, with the blonde-haired Enganamouit hitting the headlines with a hat-trick on the eve of her 23rd birthday. “It was the ideal way to start our campaign as well. It gave us momentum for the subsequent fixtures,” recalled the winner of that year’s African Player of the Year award.
Results at Canada 2015
Cameroon 6-0 Ecuador
Japan 2-1 Cameroon
Switzerland 1-2 Cameroon
Round of 16
China PR 1-0 Cameroon
“We were satisfied to have only lost 2-1 to Japan in the next match,” said Enganamouit. “Given the gulf in the world ranking between the two teams, nobody expected it. Switzerland are also well ahead of Cameroon in the hierarchy, but we managed to beat them. We were disappointed to be eliminated by China as we wanted to go even further, but we were still very proud to have reached the last 16 in our first appearance in the competition.”
- Your role model: “Samuel Eto’o – he’s pure class and has inspired me a lot. These days I’m frequently in touch with him and he gives me advice.”
- A female player who inspires you: “Marta inspired me when I was a girl, and I was lucky enough to play alongside her when we were both at the same club (Sweden’s FC Rosengard).”
- Your best attributes as a player: “My belief and determination. They’re what enable me to always play without fear and tell myself that I’ll get the better of any defender.”
- Your favourite training exercise: “Those in front of goal, obviously. Shooting, heading…”
- And your least favourite: “Running without the ball (laughs)."
- Your favourite pastime: “I love fashion and listening to music, especially Cameroonian and French bands."
A new chapter in France
The Lionesses know that this time around they will not have the element of surprise in their locker. “Teams will know what to expect and everyone will want to beat us. We’ll need to be at our very best, both physically and tactically. We want to do better, or at least as well as four years ago. I hope we can start preparing as soon as possible, because the pressure to get results will be there either way. If we don’t perform well, the fans will judge us without trying to understand the reasons.”
Improving on their performance in Canada would mean matching Nigeria, hitherto the only African team to have reached the quarter-finals (1999) of the global competition. Such a feat would confirm the rise of Cameroon, who are increasingly serious contenders to the continental throne held by the Super Falcons, who they came within a whisker of beating in the semi-finals of the 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations.
“We had the satisfaction of dominating that entire game, but they still prevailed thanks to their experience, which enabled them to cope better with difficult situations. The ball just didn’t want to go in. We could’ve played for two weeks and the result would still have been the same (laughs). We still need to improve on the mental and psychological side,” concluded Enganamouit, on whom Cameroon will be counting for many more years as they bid to hit new heights.
Did you know?
In early January 2019, Enganamouit opened a women’s football school – the Rails Football Academy – in Yaounde. “The goal is to recruit young girls from all over the country and train them there. They’ll have very good conditions and all the necessary infrastructure and equipment for them to progress. There will also be a school for them to study on site,” she explained. “I couldn’t access those things when I was younger and only learned by playing with boys. It’s important that women have their own space and be better represented among trainers and managers.”