Why did Zahra Muzdalifah, a very popular female footballer in her home country of Indonesia with 900,000 followers on Instagram, come to Japan and play in the WE League? (3ページ目)

  • text by Hasegawa Masaharu
  • photo by Setsuda Hiroyuki

Zahra continued to play for the men's team, but from 14, the age FIFA regulations prevented her from playing alongside boys, she lost her playing environment until 18 years old because there were no women's clubs or leagues in Indonesia. During that time, she spent her time practicing independently and playing football for fun.

"When I was 18, Indonesia became the host country for the 2018 Asian Games. As a host country, Indonesia women's national football team was organised and I joined the team. At the time of the Asian Games, as there were no women's clubs or leagues there yet, I only played for the national team. We played in the Asian Games and achieved some good results, such as a 6-0 win over Maldives, so the Indonesian Football Federation took notice and decided to keep the national team players to train with.

"The following year, it started a women's league (10 teams) for the first time (in Indonesia). At the start of the league, I joined Persija Jakarta, a club I had wanted to play for since I was a little girl. However, the league was for a limited period of three months, and I was also invited to the national team training camp halfway through, so I was only able to participate for one term. After that, I didn't train or play any matches for the club."

The following year 2020, the league was canceled due to the global pandemic and Zahra once again lost her continuous playing environment.

"The prospects for women's football (in Indonesia) were not clear, so I decided to go to England in 2022 because I knew I wouldn't be able to improve if I didn't. I played for South Shields FC in Division 5 (North East Regional Women's League), and also trained with Liverpool FC Women U21s.

"After that, I went back to Indonesia and was going through the visa process when my agent told me that Cerezo Osaka was interested in me. I was still playing in the league in England, but I wanted a playing environment where I could improve myself, so after giving it a lot of thought I decided to go and train with Cerezo for two weeks."

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