The great Maya Angelou once said, “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity, there is beauty and there is strength.” That quote carries extra weight in our current society and also for a star NWSL defender. Sky Blue FC‘s Estelle Johnson is an expert in diversity. She’s the daughter of an American father and Malian mother and grew up in multiple countries outside of the United States, including her native Cameroon.
“I am extremely proud and fortunate to come from a multicultural background. Although I always had the strictest parents on the block, I am so thankful to have learned African as well as American values,” Estelle told BGN. “The combination of the two has given me a unique perspective on life and also given me a thirst to learn more about other cultures.”
That unique background also helps her connect to her teammates. “My background has also helped me to better relate to my teammates from other parts of the world. I am fascinated by other cultures and I find beauty in the differences,” she explained.
Unfortunately, there is still a massive problem in the United States of people feeling the opposite of Estelle, not finding beauty or accepting cultures outside of their own. Like so many other individuals in this country, Estelle is beyond fed up with the unjust treatment of Black people in America. “I am truly disgusted and outraged by what is going on in our country today. I cannot believe that after what our ancestors/predecessors have been through and fought for, we are still fighting for basic human rights,” she said. “Black people are being killed before our eyes and we have had enough. Enough is enough. We need everyone, black and white, to use their voices to take a stand against racial injustice. The time is NOW.”
Following the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, a lot of athletes and public figures are stepping up to push for change and Johnson can be included in that group. “My aim is to use my platform to influence as much change as I can. If I can empower a small group of teammates, friends, or loved ones to take a stand and use their platform, I will feel some accomplishment. My small group of people can influence their own small group of people and spread love and acceptance like wildfire,” she explained. “Together we can spread positive messages of racial equality around the U.S. and the world. Together we can make a change but we must use our voices and platforms to create solidarity in our message. “Silence is complicity to the oppressor”.
Last year, she had the opportunity to represent her own native country in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. “The World Cup was nothing short of a dream come true,” she recalled. “When I think about taking the field last summer in France, chills still run up and down my spine. It is extremely difficult to put that experience into words but if I had to I would say that I felt an overwhelming calm and confidence knowing that I finally made it.”
“All of those years of blood, sweat, and tears were all being realized at the same time and I was chosen to represent my country of birth. I’ve never felt so empowered.”
Estelle played every minute of every match for the Indomitable Lionesses as they advanced to the Round of 16. One of their biggest supporters last summer is a compatriot and arguably the greatest African soccer player of all time: Samuel Eto’o. Estelle said, “Samuel is the pride of Cameroon! It was such an honor to meet him and what is even better is that he was with us in France. He shared his support and gave us a little boost of confidence before each match and was the first to congratulate us after our win against New Zealand. It was awesome!”
After re-signing with Sky Blue FC in the offseason, Estelle will have the chance to compete in another tournament this summer as the NWSL Challenge Cup gets set to kick off next weekend. “Re-signing with Sky Blue was the right move for me because I believe in the club and I saw all of the improvements that were being made to make it the best season yet,” she said. “Although plans changed drastically, I have faith that we will pick up where we left off and continue to grow as a squad, staff, and club.”
They will get the opportunity to get back on the pitch after the COVID-19 delay when they take on OL Reign on July 30th. Estelle said, “I am just excited to be back on the pitch and in a team environment. It has been difficult to stay fit and motivated for the past few months so it feels very liberating to get back out there with the ladies. The Challenge Cup will be short and sweet. We have been training hard to get ready for the Cup so I know we will leave it all out on the pitch.”