Jean Sseninde - Uganda
My name is Jean Sseninde. I am a centre back and have played for London Phoenix, Crystal Palace, and Queens Park Rangers.
What has been your football journey up until now?
I started playing at 8 with my brothers at home in Uganda. I had to leave my family to move to England at 17, sacrifice my place for a degree in a university and continue pursuing my footballing career. Now at 26, I have learned a lot over the years and had opportunities I never thought could have come to me. I also got to do my degree in England instead; so all the sacrifices have been worth it. My best times have been inspiring young girls through my Sseninde Women’s Development Cup tournament in Uganda and Sseninde Foundation.
What did you try to show with the photos? Was there any wider meaning with the photos?
You can see players in a small community in Uganda at one of my outreach projects. I wanted to show how players in small communities have little opportunities but enjoy the game regardless of where they are, what surface they play on and the shoes they wear. They have little access to facilities or equipment to play football.
What are the opportunities for female footballers in Uganda (and the UK)?
In Uganda there are not many opportunities unless players move to other countries. In UK there are a lot of clubs one could join and learn so there are a lot of opportunities.
What are the biggest changes happening at the moment in women's football?
Pay is the biggest challenge. It’s hard to live off just football money, yet there’s a lot of time you need to put in to it.
What does football mean to you? Do you have a message for the next generation of young female footballers?
Football changed my life - everything I have now has been because of football. I encourage young players to continue fighting for equality with the sporting industry, especially for women, and to never give up on their dreams.
What is the future for Ugandan women's football?
At the moment Ugandan football is still quite low. Some women’s football lovers are making strides, but it is hard with little or no funding at all. There’s a lot of talented players however, so if the system gets better, I see us competing well in Africa.
What do you expect to change after the 2019 WWC?
I anticipate big media coverage, which could potentially attract a lot of sponsors for the women’s game. This will be very good for the development of the game.