The FIFA Final Four

The FIFA Final Four

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It’s no secret that we’re cheering for strong girls and women around the world this year. We can’t end extreme poverty without investing in girls and women everywhere.

So far, the 2015  FIFA Women’s World Cup has been riveting.  The pressure is on with four teams left vying for a spot in the finals. We are going to be glued to the screen today for the USA match against Germany, and again tomorrow night to see Japan take on the UK. However, while we wait for these semi-final matches to get underway, let’s look at how the three African teams we featured last week did on the World Cup stage.

Cameroon

Gabrielle Onguene of Cameroon celebrates with team mates after scoring from the penalty spot. Photo credit: Getty

Gabrielle Onguene of Cameroon celebrates with team mates after scoring from the penalty spot. Photo credit: Getty Images

Nickname: Les Lions Indomptables (The Indomitable Lions)

Fun fact: This team is often seen at the African Women’s Championship, but this was their first-ever appearance at the World Cup

Highlights: Not only did Les Lions Indomptables thoroughly dominate their Ecuadorean counterparts with an impressive 6 – 0 game, but they made it the furthest among the African teams at the World Cup, getting into the Round of 16. Despite being first-timers at the World Cup, they played extremely well under pressure and should be proud of their performance in their final 0-1 match against China.

Côte d’Ivoire

Christine Lohoues of Cote D'Ivoire challenges Pikul Khueanpet of Thailand

Christine Lohoues of Cote D’Ivoire challenges Pikul Khueanpet of Thailand. Photo credit: Getty Images

Nickname: Les Éléphants

Fun fact: This is the first time Côte d’Ivoire’s team has ever qualified for the Women’s World Cup.

Highlights: Despite what must have been a tough game, mentally and physically, losing 10-0 against Germany, Les Éléphants came back a few days later energized and focused for their match against Thailand.  Even though they ultimately lost 2-3, they scored their first (and second) World Cup goals ever, and were an impressive and tough opponent for Thailand.

Nigeria

SDesire Oparanozie of Nigeria in action

SDesire Oparanozie of Nigeria in action. Photo credit: Getty Images

Nickname: Super Falcons

Fun fact: They have an incredible record in the African Women’s Championship, winning 36 of 45 matches and 5 draws. It’s no surprise then that this is the team’s 7th appearance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Highlights: The Super Falcons were formidable in their first match against Sweden scoring the first two goals. The match ended tied 3-3 but it was a tough game and demonstrated the talent and grit of the Nigerian team. In their final World Cup match against the US, the Falcons kept the score tied at zero until seconds before half-time. There were multiple times when the tide could have turned in favor of the Nigerians, but despite a hard fight, they ultimately lost to the US 0-1.

As we have seen the World Cup is a great time to celebrate the athletic strength and accomplishments of each of the teams. However….

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High school girls play soccer as part of a Sports and Development program aimed at keeping girls in school. Photo credit: Moving the Goalposts

in just Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria, 5,859,050 girls do not go to school – that’s just shy of the size of the entire state of Maryland! It’s time to change this.

Tell world leaders we need to stand #WithStrongGirls and women everywhere, so they have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

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