Spit Fire, Dream High­er: it’s all about the girls

Adwoa Aboah and Felix Cooper’s collaborative doc hands the mic to budding footballers across the globe.

It didn’t come home, but this year’s Women’s World Cup meant so much more than that. The UK showed their sup­port more than ever before – more of us took notice, more pubs held WWC screen­ings and, cru­cial­ly, a new wave of foot­ball fans – regard­less of gen­der, have formed. But despite the increased vis­i­bil­i­ty these incred­i­ble sports­women received, it’s still not enough and there’s a long way to go before women’s foot­ball is put on the same pedestal as the men’s. Why? Foot­ball sim­ply still isn’t a woman’s sport – apparently. 

Chal­leng­ing this age­ing notion head-on is Gurls Talk founder Adwoa Aboah and film­mak­er Felix Coop­er, whose new col­lab­o­ra­tive doc­u­men­tary Spit Fire, Dream High­er (sup­port­ed by Nike) tells the indi­vid­ual sto­ries of sev­en foot­ball fans across the world. Felix and I took to Bidi Bidi Camp in Ugan­da, the country’s largest refugee camp”, says Aboah. We met this incred­i­ble young girl with a strik­ing pas­sion for foot­ball and through her, we recog­nised the need to tell the sto­ries of young women around the world just like her.” And so the duo embarked on a mis­sion across the globe explor­ing the con­trast­ing lives of young foot­ballers liv­ing in cities from Moscow to Malatya, each unit­ed through their pas­sion for the team sport. With the sport nat­u­ral­ly comes a set of val­ues: team­work, uni­ty and com­mu­ni­ty, along­side efforts to dis­pel neg­a­tive scruti­ny from wider com­mu­ni­ties. Each coun­try was of course very dif­fer­ent, but they all shared the same issue of women’s foot­ball not being tak­en seri­ous­ly,” says Cooper.


Aboah puts it down to vis­i­bil­i­ty: The media have a crit­i­cal role in this. If women play­ing foot­ball would be cov­ered in the same way men’s foot­ball is, audi­ences would start to pay more atten­tion and in their eyes, the sport would move toward being more equal.” Sure, this year saw the media pay more atten­tion to the WWC than ever before, but let’s not for­get that it has tak­en since 1991 to get here – and still with just a frac­tion of sup­port that the men receive. 

But for those of you read­ing this, what we can do is show our sup­port. I realised from all the girls that it’s real­ly about sup­port. Whether it’s your fam­i­ly (like Abi­gail in Ghana) or your com­mu­ni­ty (like Ikranur’s team in east­ern Turkey). It’s about sup­port­ing these young peo­ple and get­ting them to feel like they are being lis­tened to, and watched,” says Coop­er.

Spit Fire, Dream High­er forces us to sit up and take notice, and it comes at a time when the sports world is slow­ly but sure­ly chang­ing. The girls pro­filed – Odette, Rose, Zeri­na, Kristi­na, Ikra­nur, Pre­cious and Londi­we – are a tes­ta­ment to how sports has the pow­er to unite and form tight-knit com­mu­ni­ties, but also the pow­er to encour­age peo­ple to fight for change. The indi­vid­ual is pow­er­ful – each of these young girls is work­ing to change their com­mu­ni­ties’ atti­tudes. It shows us that by chang­ing one person’s mind, a domi­no effect takes place and we can change how com­mu­ni­ties and wider soci­eties think,” says Aboah. I love that women’s foot­ball is start­ing to gar­ner the recog­ni­tion it deserves. But with that being said, we still have so far to go. It shouldn’t have to be women’s foot­ball’ – it’s foot­ball’, full stop.”

Spit Fire, Dream High­er is avail­able to watch and the accom­pa­ny­ing pho­tog­ra­phy book is avail­able through IDEA

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