Nor joins Common Goal
"If everyone comes together we can change the world"
When Nor Mustafa cites Zlatan Ibrahimović as her hero and says she wants to have the same impact on the women’s game as Zlatan has had on the men’s, she does so with a confidence that means you don’t even question the scale of her ambition.
The youngster is the latest member of the Common Goal movement and has joined on the same day as being announced as a new West Ham United player.
At 18 it would be fair to be fazed by the moment – Nor has made a big leap to West Ham from Swedish club Eskilstuna – but there isn’t a hint of being overwhelmed.
Nor was born and raised in Sweden, her parents moved to the country from Syria 35 years ago, and she’s had a ball at her feet for as long as she can remember.
The young forward admits she has faced many challenges on her path to the Women’s Super League and now she wants to use her platform to make sure others can have a smoother journey.
“It hasn’t always been easy,” she said. “When I used to play outside, people told me: 'Go home, you’re a girl, you shouldn’t be playing football.'"
“When I was about six I joined a team. I wasn’t the typical Swedish girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. So I always had to do extra to be seen. I wasn’t given the same space they were just because of the way I look and where I came from.
“I would have to work twice as hard, three times as hard, I would have to score five goals in a game so that people would say ‘she’s alright’.
“Zlatan hasn’t always had it easy, too. In his early life he was also discriminated against and faced a lot of challenges and I can see myself in him. He’s been through that and I’ve been through that and look what he’s achieved.
“He has opened so many doors for immigrant voices in Sweden. And if Zlatan can do it, we can do it. That was always in my mind.
“Back then football wasn’t so big for women, but Zlatan has always been a big, big inspiration for me, a big idol and what he has done for the men’s side, I want to do for the women’s side.
“I want young girls to see me as an inspiration and say, 'Nor did it, so we can do it.'”
Nor learned about Common Goal when she saw fellow Swede Magda Eriksson joining in 2019. Since then she has followed the growth of the movement closely and says she didn’t hesitate when it came to joining.
“Life it not just about football,” she added. “If I can help someone then I will do it and if I can help someone through my football, I will do it 100%
“Even if it helps just one person or if it helps thousands of people, I’m the kind of person who wants to give back and Common Goal helps me do that.
“It hasn’t always been easy for me and this is why Common Goal is such a great platform and organisation to help the girls who are in the same position as me or have been in the same position or are going to be in the same position that I was a few years ago.”
For Nor there is no question about whether she should or shouldn’t help others and her enthusiasm for the game and its potential to change lives is palpable.
“I just love football,” she said. “This is my passion. If my mum tells me to go to the store to buy milk, I always had the ball with me. Everywhere I went I had the football with me."
“Football is such a good way to reach people. The love people have for football is unbelievable, you know. When you play football it doesn’t matter where you’re from, what colour you are. You are a team. You are playing together.
“Football changes lives. If I have a bad day and they watch a game of football, they get happy. Football is so much more than football, it’s love, it’s passion, it’s so much more than kicking a ball. Football unites people.”
For one so young Nor has the world at her feet and is quick to call others to join her in forging change in the world.
“I would say to others, 100% join Common Goal. If everyone comes together we can make changes in the world to make the world a better place for everyone.
“So if you’re thinking about joining, don’t hesitate. Do it!”