By Agnes Amondi,
Rachael Muema is a midfielder for the Kenya Women’s Premier League (KWPL) side Thika Queens. She was recently part of the Harambee Starlets squad that won bronze at the Turkish Women’s Cup in Alanya, Turkey.
Muema is a rising star of the women’s game in her own right. She’s already proving to be vital for Thika Queens.
In this Q&A interview with soka25east.com she lets us in to her life in football.
When did you start playing football?
My interest in football developed when I was young. I realised that I was talented in the game and decided to have a go at it.
Did you always want to be a midfielder?
Not really. I kind of found myself in that position
How did you get into Kenya Women’s Premier League (KWPL)?
I joined the league immediately from Nginda High School in 2016 where I captained my school team. The league was new at the time. My priority then was to settle in as quick as possible.
Describe your first call up for Harambee Starlets.
It was amazing. This was in 2017. I got the opportunity to train & play with players who’ve been in the game for a while. That for me was a learning experience.
Also, getting the honours of wearing the national team jersey and represent my country is a non forgettable experience.
What was the Turkish Women’s Cup like?
It was really good. That’s the kind of exposure we need. To play a quality team like Chile is, really helps players test and showcase their ability.
What challenges have you gone through to get to where you are?
The biggest one is obviously finances. Most of us (female footballers) do not have a salary. We commit because we love the game and hope that one day things will change.
The other is to do with exposure of the women’s leahue. This makes it so difficult for girls to get their breakthrough.
What’s your view on the status of Women’s Football in Kenya?
Currently, the game is on an upward trajectory. That said, more effort is still needed from fans and stakeholders to continuously develop it.
If you had a chance to speak to football stakeholders about women’s football, what would you tell them?
They need to support as in every way they can. The league needs a sponsor. Clubs also need sponsors. With this, at least we (players) would have something to take home and really stop worrying about our bills.
Your favourite female footballer and why?
USA international Megan Rapinoe. Because of her personality particularly within the game.
What do you think about the debate around equality in women’s sport and in football?
Lots has already been said about this subject. My view is; female footballers also need to get the kind of privilege their male counterparts receive.
If the USA women’s team could generate more income than their men’s team, it just goes to show that if we are taken seriously and get those opportunities, their is a lot more we can offer with enough support.
Do you think female footballers deserve equal pay to that of men?
If only we can get the same attention that men receive, it can help boost our game to the level the men’s is at. Hence, factors like pay will be bound to rise.
Your biggest memories in the game both good and bad?
The good: Scoring against Ghana in 2017. I celebrated that goal whole heatedly.
The bad: Dislocating my shoulder when on assignment with Thika Queens. I never celebrated my goal because of the pain. I went on to miss a couple of games.
The toughest defender you’ve faced and why?
Nelly Sawe. She is really smart upstairs. Her defensive game is effortless. She doesn’t use a lot of energy when tackling because its just in her mind to do it.
Your favourite food to eat on the night before a competition?
Any pre match rituals?
None. The key is to always be prepared and give it your all. Their is little room for luck.
How do you deal with nervousness even whilst competing?
Breathing in and out. Also, doing short sprints.
Who is your inspiration?
You favourite quote?
It’s not over until it is done.
Your biggest lesson yet?
It doesn’t matter what you are going through right now in life. It is just a preparation for another level.