Florence Dadson requires little by way of introduction. The Black Princesses striker has shown determination and self belief to become one of the shining lights in the women's game.
Though she might still be strutting her career path, the 19 year-old tells of her experience about how she fought her motherís objection to her chosen career, football.
She spoke exclusively to www.ghanafa.org about her career choice, 'husband' Neymar, education and football and Ghana's World Cup ambitions.
Q: What motivated you to play football?
A: I naturally loved football so I started playing as a kid. I had keen interest in football so I watched lots of it on television and also played it with the boys around Ė in school and at home. I realized my potentials playing with the boys and I knew football was my game.
Q: Why did you decide to play with boys instead of girls?
A: I had no choice because most of the girls didnít like football so I had to play with the guys. And I was good so I thought why donít you play with the boys to show them I can even play better than them.
Q: Did you face any objection from the boys?
A: Yes some of them didnít like the idea. But with time they accepted me when they realized I was passionate about the game.
Q: How difficult was it for a young girl to play around with boys instead of helping your parents at home as expected?
A: It was very very difficult and a big challenge for me but I persevered because I loved what I was doing. My mother for instance didnít like the idea at all and opposed it strongly and so were some of my female friends. They all tried to discourage me. But thankfully, my grandmother was in agreement and she supported me fully. I was only able to do that because my grandmother supported me, as well as my own self belief. I loved the game, and I knew I could play football so I didnít understand my motherís position. My mother saw it as a very strange thing for her young daughter to do, going about playing football with boys. My friends also mocked me, calling me ĎKojo Besiaí and all sorts of names. But I was not perturbed. I knew I had the talent and I loved the game
Q: Did your mother ever soften her stance on you?
A: Yeah, she did at some point Ė when I began to receive award and certificates in school. It was then that she realized that I could become a very good footballer.
Q: What was the turning point for you in your football career?
A: I started playing for my school team Academia of Christ the King Senior High School in Cape Coast and fortunately for me, I was selected for a regional competition in Koforidua where I represented my region. At the competition, the national handlers spotted me and I had a justify your inclusion at prampram. Fortunately, I was selected among the first batch of the Black Maidens that represented Ghana at the World Cup. That was the turning point in my career. I also got the opportunity to play for Ghatel Ladies Cape Coast.
Q: How did your parents, especially your mother receive the news of your invitation to the Black Maidens?
A: They were very happy, especially my mother. In fact my mother began to have a change of mind towards my chosen career when I was selected to represent my region in the national competition. People came to her telling her how good I was and she was very happy with that. She began to encourage me even before my selection to the Black Maidens. And when they began to show our matches on television, I think she was extremely happy and proud of me. My friends who used to mock me, suddenly were happy for me. Playing for your country is a big honour so my mother and my friends are happy.
Q: How long did you play for Cape Coast Ghatel Ladies?
A: I started playing for them at 14 and when I turned 18, I had a scholarship to Robert Morris University in the US where Iím studying and playing for the university team. I just completed my associate degree in fitness and health science. I want to do nursing for my bachelorís degree when I go back in May. But now I am concentrating on helping the Princesses qualify for the World Cup.
Q: How difficult is it combining education and playing football?
A: It is not easy at all, especially at the beginning. I had to attend practice , go to school and after school attend practice again as well as do my home work. It wasnít easy for me when I started but I am now used to it. I persevered because I knew what I wanted to achieve.
Q: How is the reception like in school whenever you represent your country and you go back?
A: Like I said playing for your country is a big honour so is a proud moment for me and my friends whenever I represent Ghana. Most of my friends in school are from different countries who are yet to have the opportunity of representing their countries. So they are always happy for me and they tell me they hope one day they will also have the opportunity to play for their countries.
Q: How has playing and learning in US impacted on your career?
A: I have really learned a lot and Iím still learning. And whenever I come down to the national team, I learn something new and something different.
Q: The highest point in a footballerís career is to play at the senior World Cup and I guess you are aiming at one day playing for the Queens at the World Cup.
A: Everyone has a dream but itís important to take it one step at a time. Itís step by step. I was with the Maidens and Iím now with the Princesses. I have to concentrate on doing a good job with the Princesses and then we will see what happens. We have to qualify for our second World Cup and that is my dream for now.
Q: Talking about the World Cup, it appears you are on course after beating Namibia 7-0. How did it feel after your hat-trick?
A: Kudos to the team but personally itís always great for a striker to score. Honestly, I wasnít impressed with my overall performance although I scored a hat trick. I think I have to lift up my game because there will be more difficult challenge ahead. I am working so hard so I can give off my best.
Q: If you qualify, it will be your second World Cup with the Princesses. What imprint do you want leave?
A: Yea it will be my second and my last World Cup with the Princesses as I will be 20 this year. I wasnít really happy with my performance at the World Cup. There was so much pressure on me as a striker. But now we have more experience and we want to make a mark if we qualify. The most important thing is to qualify first. If we do, we are confident we can do far better than we did in our first attempt.
Q: What is your ambition in football?
A: I want to play in the US Womenís Professional Soccer (WPS).
Q: Who is your idol in womenís football?
A: I call Neymar my husband because I love the way he plays. I used to like Fernando Torres but I donít know what is happening to him now. But my idol is Abi Wamback of USA. I want to be like her.