For the ancient African civilization, hairstyles were a significant part of the culture. A symbolism of tribe, religion, spirituality, class and status.
Hairstyles are said to be changing along with civilization, but an undeniable fact is how deeply rooted in the past they still are.
I remember my mom bundling my sister and me to the barber shop for a haircut because she couldn’t deal with never having someone to weave our really long and kinky hair. By default, I came to appreciate hairstyles on other people who could manipulate their hair and look fabulous.
Imagine how captivated and blown away I was when I saw my first national football game and Taribo West casually had a hairstyle of three coloured “shukus”. Prior to that, I had no idea you could switch up hair colour or even add extensions, especially as a Nigerian. Best believe my mom had no rest till she had a satisfying explanation for little me.
I started to look out for more “football hairstyles,” as I termed it, discovering for myself a form of art in a salient culture. I remember El Hadji Diouf always had fancy and colourful hairstyles and Nwankwo Kanu’s had long thick braids packaged to dazzle and razzle, seducing me and my hair lust even more.
Think of having ice cream red velvet cake with extra whipped cream and seedless grape toppings for dinner after a sunny day of tedious activity; now that’s how I felt when I saw my first Female Football game, gratified mentally and morally. I was ecstatic to see women play, and the fact that they didn’t have to look like men for that further intrigued me.
Over the years, we have seen quite a number of hairstyles in sports that fall under different adjectival categories. While the men undeniably had/have some outstanding hairstyles, the women still top the charts.
The 2019 FIFA Female World Cup gifted us with a lot of special talking points. Interesting conversation starters like, did you see Francisca’s hair for legends?.
It’s a long ride from African braids to long ponytails, French braids to stop overs at Ghana, just to familiarise oneself with their indigenous weaving, thereafter taking a detour to tapered cuts. I have listed popular hairstyles to take you on a journey of recall for:
- BRIGHTLY COLOURED TAPERED CUTS
Players like Shanice van de Sanden and Sophie Schmidt graced our eyes with aesthetically pleasing short coloured cuts, although I think it’s a secret football weapon to distract opponents using brightly coloured hair to steal the show and a win too. Easy to recreate hair-do for our tapered cut ladies with temporary or permanent hair dyes; who knows, you just might have their skills to accompany the cut.
- HIGH AND LOW PONYTAIL
Julie Johnston and Karen Bardsley are proof that you can do what you love and slay at doing it too regardless if you have to run around, jump in the air or do sliding tackles while at it. Their high and low ponytails create a simple but sharp look. Extra tip, elastic bands come in handy for a colourful look and extra hold.
- FRENCH BRAIDS
Alex Morgan queened this style perfectly. A pinch of trickery and a dabble of precision. Accentuates an innocent babyish look (perfect for an assassin’s business).
- BOX BRAIDS
One of my personal favourites, this style was best worn by an African Queen who deserves nothing less than this role: Francisca Ordega. An amazing mixture of black and purple to create this look even further enhanced her Royal status. Although it is quite time consuming to recreate, this style is sure to get heads rolling wherever you go, and sometimes the ball too.
Native to quite a number of African countries, different players have come to adore this look. Abundant in all types of sizes, colours and looks. Quite technical to install but once it’s done you have a look for ages.
The 2019 FIFA Female World Cup adorned my hair library with a lot of colourful inspiration for days. Women who owned football in such amazing looks.
Football inspires a rollercoaster of emotions, not necessarily the feeling and pleasure of kicking the ball around or watching the ball get kicked around but other equally powerful factors, the passion, the celebrations, the loud cheers and jeers, the tears, the laughter and the hairstyles.
Hairstyles are a symbolism of growth, freedom and confidence. It’s the simplest way of saying, “hey I play football and even though I dress like a man I don’t have to look like one to completely own it.”
History has it that after the abolishment of the Slave Trade, African Americans went to a great deal of trouble to straighten out their hair texture to look more European as a means of societal acceptance, so much so that African American business woman Madam CJ Walker who started hair growth and “relaxer” products got a Guiness World Record for being the first self-made millionairess.
The symbolism of these players’ hairstyles depict strength and courage, they portray elegance and skills. It screams hey, I can flip my ponytail while doing a rabona.
I see tweets now from parents about their daughters wanting to wear the same hairstyle as female footballers. If that doesn’t scream growth then I don’t know what does. This reinforces the fact that more people pay attention to Female Football now; apart from getting to see the ball get kicked around, they are awed by the exotic exposé of beautiful women.
The self- representation of these women makes it more applaudable.
*Whispering* you don’t have to hold back from getting a tapered cut anymore or wearing out your natural kinky hair, you can totally slay it without fear and when people question your source of strength and inspiration just tell them about the player who did the Nutmeg or the Rabona . If you don’t remember them for their skills you sure as hell gon remember them for their hairstyles.