At only 21 years old, Houleye Deme is a central defender and captain of AS Monaco Féminin. We met up with her.

When she used to play football in the courtyard with her little brother, young Houleye Deme would never have believed that her passion for football would take her so far. And yet…

After first trying out basketball, the young woman was still training in a small club in Le Havre, her home town, at the age of 13. Eight years later, she was very proud to take part in the French Cup on the AS Monaco Féminin team, where she has the double role of captain and central defender.

We didn’t lose, we learned 

Beaten in the round of 16 by Stade de Reims on January 29, the ladies have nothing to be ashamed of, on the contrary. “When we played against Reims, the girls showed that they had game, even against girls from D1 and we were at 0-0 at half time. The work we’ve been doing since the beginning of the year finally paid off. It was historic for the club and for us! We never let up, we’re proud of our journey: we didn’t lose, we learned,” the Captain smiled.

Currently in the Regional 1 division, AS Monaco Féminin has a very specific goal: to move up to D2 next year: “I think it’s off to a good start. We are very hard workers, we turn up on time for training, we give the best of ourselves to reach our goal!”

Improve day by day

Taking part in the French Cup has also proved to be particularly instructive. “We got to meet several teams, it was a great adventure! We have been able to play every Sunday since September, stay active and get to know the level of the other teams in France, especially the big teams, ”adds Houleye.

At the same time, the young woman, who has a BTS in international trade and is currently a marketing assistant, hopes one day to improve enough to be able to make a living from football.

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© Marcellofotography06

AS Monaco is really a united, family-oriented team

And to up her game even further, she looks to players from other teams, her real role models.  “I don’t watch a lot of football matches, which is very paradoxical,” the young girl smiles. “But I have female friends who are professional footballers, and since I am close to them, I prefer to call on them if I need advice. I didn’t have a poster of a particular player on my wall.”

Captain of the team since her arrival in 2019, Houleye Deme takes her role very seriously: “I had already been captain of the reserve team in my previous club, so I know what a responsibility it is. It’s an honour to carry the team “on your back”. It means that the girls, the coach and the club have confidence in me, including on the pitch. AS Monaco is really a united, family-oriented team, we are all friends, and we know that if one of us has a problem, the others will be there to help.”

Passing on football’s values

Dynamic and motivated, the young woman has even added training for young AS Monaco recruits into her -already very busy- schedule. “I take care of eight-year-old boys, I had little girls previously. It’s going very well, I feel good here, in Monaco,” she says.

An additional experience, which allows her to pass on the values of this sport, which are vital to her. “I like team sports, you’re not alone… If one of the girls on the team isn’t doing well, we’re there for her. And football requires a lot of discipline, a lot of rigour to stay on the pitch for 90 minutes or more. People think football is just chasing after a ball, but there’s a lot more to it than that.”

I was often called a tomboy, because I played football, but I let it go over my head.

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© Marcellofotography06

No question, then, of letting stereotypes get the upper hand. Including the way society views little girls who play football. “I was often called a tomboy, because I played football, but I let it go over my head. Fortunately, my family has always supported me. They’ve all been behind me from the start, they always send me little messages before my matches…”, she says.

The young player also has a message for all girls, whatever their age, who would like to get into the sport: “I would tell them to have confidence in themselves, it’s very important. Sometimes we can feel that we are not up to it, we wonder if we can succeed… But you mustn’t give up, absolutely not.”

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