Mali women’s footballer Couloumba Sogore last month made history as the first AS Real club member to sign a contract with a French division two outfit.
Sogore put pen to paper after an entire year of trials with the Burgundy-based AJ Auxerre, to sign her first professional contract, a two-year deal.
The 23-year old was an integral figure for Mali during the last Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Awcon) in 2018 and she took full advantage of the stage to place herself on top of the game and eventually earn a deal abroad.
“I am very happy to sign this first professional contract, especially with AJ Auxerre, where I joined a year and a half ago. This contract is a massive challenge for me and I will have to double my efforts every day to be up to the task,” Sogore told CAFOnline.com.
Sogore speaks fondly about her humble beginnings from the Malian capital of Bamako. But, it is in Kangaba, in the heart of Mande, a city located 50-km from the Guinean border that everything began for the Malian international.
“I started playing when I was very young, barefoot with my brothers. I had a lot of difficulty playing football because my parents were against it, arguing that it was not an activity for women. Despite their refusal, I hid to go and play and eventually, I had the chance to train at the famous AS Réal club in Bamako,” she explains.
Having done well to develop back at home in Mali, Sogore landed the opportunity to move to France.
“With a bit of experience under my belt, I was motivated to try another challenge. I was motivated to leave my country, my roots and my family to come and seek a development that would allow me to become better,” says the defender.
“Football is my whole life and I will do everything in my power to get better.”
Her national team career began back in 2013, highlighted by her performance at the Awcon in Ghana two years ago.
Sogore proved herself with her club AS Real, finishing second twice in the Malian League and twice being a finalist of the National Cup.
Her national team doors opened up in 2016 when she was called up to the Awcon squad for the final tournament in Cameroon and she maintained her status in 2018 when she played all five matches in Ghana.
She has also gone on to participate in West African Football Union tournaments as well as Olympic qualifiers.
With her French club, Sogore hopes to play a vital role in their ambition of playing in the top-flight league.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic having reshaped how they prepare for the new season, the Malian’s eyes remain fixed on her targets and ambitions.
“The lockdown was very tough for me especially at the start when I could not train regularly. However, I was able to keep fit thanks to the exercises that our physical trainer gave us.”
“The preparation for the new season is going very well and we are working very hard to have a good season and get promoted at the end of the season.”
The Malian says she is enjoying her French adventure and feels her career is on the right path.
“This is a great opportunity at this point in my career. The lifestyle here is incredible and the football is amazing. The fans always turn up to support the team and I feel at ease here,” she states.
She believes that performing well with her French club will, in turn, help her improve at the national team level.
“This is a new and higher step for me, but the hard work begins now. It is up to me to give my all and with determination and ambition, I know I will do well.”
In partnership with ANA and Sports Leo