Farida El Sheshingy is used to beating the odds.
Although soccer is the national sport in her native country of Egypt, soccer was not viewed as appropriate for girls when Farida was growing up. But Farida kept playing.
Today, Farida aspires to become a professional soccer and eventually build a women’s soccer academy in Egypt. Read on to learn how Farida overcomes obstacles, trusts her own struggle and how her competitive nature brings out the best in her.
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Farida El Sheshingy, people know me as “Farida Salem.” I have two younger brothers. I like to free-write in my spare time, and I often write poems and short stories. I’m currently studying Physical Education at Vancouver Island University. It has always been my dream to pursue sports alongside my studies. I have played all sorts of sports while growing up such as: basketball, handball, squash, tennis, volleyball, rugby, swimming, karate, and many more.
But I finally decided I want to play soccer for the rest of my life.
When did your love of soccer begin? What is it like being a female soccer player in Egypt?
I fell in love with soccer ever since I was 11 years old, but I believe it was in me a long time before that. I remember my mother telling me that I used to sleep hugging a soccer ball when I was really young. Also, our Egyptian culture always comes hand in hand with soccer, since it is the national sport. Therefore, naturally, my dad and my uncles were always playing soccer, watching it, or discussing the matches during our family gatherings. But the passion for soccer was born when it started to become part of my daily physical activity.
I would go and play with the boys at school during recess, when there wasn’t much to do. The girls would just sit around and chat, maybe play basketball, but the boys were always on the go – which to me was more exciting than discussing what we will have for dinner later or how boring classes were today.
Being a female soccer player in Egypt was very tough. At the beginning, everyone was so shocked that I would so much as consider playing soccer, and kept asking me why I didn’t choose a more “feminine” sport. But eventually, everyone came around and accepted the fact that I just love the beautiful game and I won’t take no for an answer.
What do you enjoy outside of soccer?
I really enjoy playing pool (billiards) with my brother, as it was my favorite pastime when I was younger. My dad (RIP) would always take us after our training sessions to play pool for fun. He was a pool shark! I also enjoy playing videos games with both my brothers as well. The competitive nature that we grew up with really brought out the best in me. So I enjoy anything me and my brothers do together. I absolutely love creative writing. It’s my outlet away from soccer. And I just like being at home most of the time, watching movies while having some pasta!
What goals do you have for the next 5 or 10 years?
My biggest goal is to become a professional soccer player. I want everyone to take me seriously for what I do and what I love, and I really want to make it all the way. It’s not fair for me to have come all this way for nothing. And I want to leave a trail behind me for the future generations to follow. That being said, my goal for the next 10+ years is to establish a women’s soccer academy in Egypt for all the little girls out there who share the same dreams as mine. I want to make the road a little bit easier for them than what I’ve had to go through so far.
Describe a typical day in your life.
A typical day in my life starts with a nice, warm cup of coffee and some light breakfast. I run errands in the morning, have proper breakfast with best friends or just go for a long walk with someone. I come back home around 3:00 pm to get ready for a training session or workout. As soon as I am home after that, I have a massive dish of pasta, while icing my legs for recovery and watching one of my favorite TV shows. After an ice-cold shower, I’ll go on my computer to check social media networks, doing some homework if it’s during school time, and call home. If I am too tired afterwards, I’d possibly go to bed. More often than not though, I stay up late, doing more homework or simply writing.
What advice do you have for people who aspire to be professional soccer players?
My advise for aspiring professional soccer players is to go that extra inch. Because you might feel like giving up and that the road is way too long, when you are most probably just that tiny step away from achieving your dreams. I have come so close to giving up way too many times, only to find out that there was so much in store for me the very next moment. Also, trust your struggle. Have faith in your journey. Sometimes we get too caught up with what we are doing and what we have ahead of us, and forget about all we have already achieved. If you look back for a second, you can realize that you have come so far already, and that there is absolutely nothing that can stop you from going forward. Trust your struggle.
Who inspires you?
Alex Morgan inspires me. She plays on the U.S. women’s soccer team and is also a writer. She is someone I look up to and respect because she has been through a lot of injuries, and successfully recovered every single time. She is not a quitter, and I think everyone in the world views soccer differently because of her. I also like how she shatters the gender stereotype that we have back in Egypt, and I always admired her courage and sense of self. I wish that some day everyone can take me as seriously as they do her for my passion and my determination to become the best version of myself.
How do you use about.me?
I like about.me a lot! It’s very creative, and so easy on the eyes. I love how it links all my social media accounts together, most specifically the email button, because I can be in contact with so many people day in and day out who might not necessarily know everything about me. That’s where about.me steps in and does all the magic.
I have a very strong feeling about.me will connect me to potential employees in the future due to its wide audience. And if not, I am perfectly happy with all the beautiful people that I have connected with from around the world, who may or may not share the same interests as me. I am very happy to have come across this vast network and look forward to what’s in store for me.
Anna Lizaur is a Marketing Manager with about.me. She graduated from the University of Virginia. Anna is fluent in Spanish and can count to 100 in Chinese.