Dieke: Trying to inspire others makes me smile
Ifeoma Dieke, Scotland Women’s first black captain, says she hopes her achievements will inspire others to follow in her footsteps.
The American-born defender, who was brought up in Lanarkshire, was eligible to play for Scotland, the United States or, through her parents, Nigeria, but went onto make 123 appearances for Scotland.
Along the way, she played for Great Britain at the 2012 London Olympics as well as realising her dream of captaining her country.
Speaking on The Women’s Football Show, Dieke said she had encountered many obstacles along the way but that resilience had ultimately paid off.
“Knowing that down the line there could be a future female black captain, and knowing that if I go down in the books as the first one then that will inspire someone else to be like me,” she said.
“No matter what, no matter your gender or your colour, if you put your mind to something and you just work hard then good things happen without you even seeking it.
“So knowing that there is someone who has gone before them that is what makes me prouder, knowing that if I can inspire someone to be actually like I want to be a captain, being black and female. That’s what makes me smile, it’s about knowing someone wants to follow in my footsteps.
“As a kid as a youngster I was really shy so it was hard for me to just go into a situation where I don’t know anybody – if you look around there is nobody like me, I don’t feel represented, so I think there is an element of fear in that way [for under-represented communities in football].
“Just thinking, you know, you’re not going to be accepted because all some people see is the colour of your skin and then they make a judgement about you off of that. So then it’s a case if you do show up are you going to get a fair crack of the whip.
“There is also all the elements that everybody is different. I’ve gone through it myself and I had that resilience that no matter what barrier what object was thrown my way [I’ve found a way to come through it].
“If an environment is welcoming then it is easier for everybody to feel included and to just go out there and just do it.”
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