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International Women's Day, #ISFGirlPower series, story 1: Nemata from Burkina Faso
One of the most powerful tools to promote women participation in sport is to bring their stories to the world. To this end, the ISF will celebrate Women’s Day by dedicating the month of March to promoting women in sport and launch #ISFGirlsPower campaign on all its channels. Meet our first interviewee, a 15-year-old Nemata Nikiema from Burkina Faso and discover how sport has changed her life.
Born and raised in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou, Nemata Nikiema was just 15 years old when she boarded a plane for the first time in her life. On a flight to Morocco taking her and other kids of her age to ISF Gymnasiade, the biggest competition for school children in the world. Little did she know that when she boarded that plane, her life would never be the same.
But her story starts years earlier, when her PE teacher at her school noticed her talent,
“My dad is a taxi driver in Ouagdougou, and my mom works for a lottery. Once my physical education teacher saw me run, my speed impressed him, and he asked me why I didn’t try to start training in athletics. In the beginning, my dad was against me doing sports, he thought it wasn’t good for me, not sure why, maybe he was scared I could get hurt? But it was my mom who had my back. She is always with me and supports all the decisions I take.”
As we interview through the phone, she has hard time describing her feelings of her experience at Gymnasiade 2018 in Marrakech, Morocco,
“Before the competition I was nervous to the extent I thought I wouldn’t be able to participate. But as soon as I arrived, the moment I walked on to the stadium, I gave all that I had. I participated in triple jump and 100 meters. This is how trainer Fernando noticed me.”
Brazilia’s Lavras University athletics coach Fernando de Oliveiro saw natural talent in Nemata and scouted her at the triple jump event at ISF Gymnasiade, eventually securing a full scholarship for her to study and train at Cinira Carvalho school in a city of Mina Gerais.
Then everything happened so fast. Nemata decided to give it a chance and go study to Brazil. Alone. At 15. Not speaking a word of Portuguese.
When she got back from Morocco, she got to meet Pr Stanislas Ouaro, Minister of Education and Literacy, who congratulated her with the scholarship. In the article about her in a local newspaper, she says, “I promise I will bring back home many medals.”
But her move to Brazil did not come easy.
“It was difficult for me in the beginning without my family around and not speaking the language… Everything was different: the food, clothes, houses… So many people. But as soon as I learned a bit of Portuguese, I adapted fast. Sport helped me to integrate. Now I have many friends, they all are Brazilian athletes I met through training here.”
Nemata is busy studying and has a very busy schedule, training each day from Monday till Saturday. She encouraged others to follow their dreams and discover themselves through sport,
Nemata is ambitious for the future. She cherishes two dreams and is thinking about pursuing both.
“I always wanted to become a famous athlete one day and compete at Olympic Games. Or to become a lawyer. There is an athlete I really admire, Fabrice Zango.. Just like me, he is from Burkina Faso. He has World Campionships medals and is training now in France. He motivates me to continue training hard.”
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