Isatou Jallow’s journey began in ‘Angalfouta’, a small town in Basse, Upper River Region. She had an insatiable love for football growing up. She was always in a hurry to get things done including house chores in order to join boys in her neighborhood for street football.
The talented footballer has broken down barriers to become Basse’s first ever female footballer to don the national colors.
While playing football on the streets, Isatou managed to grow her talent in the local team. Her desire to pursue a career in football developed and she began to take several teams until he was able to join Watterman FC, the town’s biggest female football team. “Football is all that I desired to do since I was young, Isatou tells The Chronicle. Playing football with the boys while growing up also helped in shaping my career. I became more ambitious to succeed.”
The pacy and skillful forward was later spotted by caoches of Interior Football Club, one of the top teams in the national women’s premiere league. By the time she was 14, she bade farewell to her Watterman FC teammates as she moved to the greater Banjul area to join Interior Football Club. But because she was young at the time, Isatou needed experience to play in the top tier, so she was loaned to Brikama United, then in the second division for one season. With Brikama, she helped the team gain promotion to the top tier during the 2011/12 season.
“Isatou is a promising talent with a lot more to offer, “said John Mendy, Gambian-Germany based football writer. She can reach Asisat Oshoala’s level if she’s focused and given the support needed.”
Asisat Oshoala is a Nigerian female footballer who plays for Spanish side FC Barcelona Femení in the Primera División as a forward.
However, cashing in on the opportunity to take her football endeavors to the next level, she became an instant success for Interior FC following her return from Brikama United. She broke into the first team, helping Interior to win five league titles, four FA cups and four super cups.
Sainey Sisoho was Isatou’s teammate during the 2012 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan. She described her as a hardworking and gifted footballer. “Isatou is a super talented footballer, “Sainey who’s now the national women’s football coordinator with The Gambia Football Federation tells The Chronicle. Currently, she is one of the key players in the senior national team. A player that every coach can always count on in the field of play.”
Isatou’s road to the top wasn’t all rosy. She faced stereotyping every day while trying to make it as a footballer. The 22-year-old describes how difficult it was for her to pursue her passion of playing football. “In the beginning, people in my community were saying it’s not going to work out for me as a woman to play football. They made comments such as ‘you should just stay at home and do the cooking and washing’. But I was determined to prove them wrong and to be accepted the way I was.”
Few years down the line, Isatou has proven that football is women’s game too. Today, she’s not only accepted in her community but she’s also seen as a role model. “I’m now seen a source of inspiration to all young female footballers in Basse, “she said. My wish is to see many female national team players from Basse.”
She played a crucial role in Gambia’s maiden participation in the 2018 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Burkina Faso and Nigeria.
Currently, Isatou plays for Rivers Angels in the Nigeria Women Premier League. She helped the club win its 7th league title in the 2019/20 season (her debut season). She previously played for F.C. Ramat HaSharon in Israel before joining Rivers Angels.
Her one year loan deal to Rivers is likely to be extended despite being sidelined through injury for months now. She’s currently on her personal recovery training in Gambia.