Isha Johansen, hero of the Disrupt Yourself podcast’s fourth episode, knows well the power of constraints. She’s a native of Sierra Leone. After a civil war that shattered her country, she wanted to get boys back to school. She started a philanthropic project. If the boys would go to school, she would give them soccer equipment. This evolved into an internationally competitive football (soccer) team—FC Johansen.

Isha also lived through the Ebola crisis. “I stayed through the Ebola,” Isha says. “I stayed there—we lost players, we lost players’ families, we lost friends. Ebola didn’t pick or choose. It didn’t discriminate.”

Being a Woman: Still a Huge Obstacle

One of the severest ongoing constraints is that Isha Johansen is a woman. Despite this obstacle, along with endemic organizational corruption, she is pressing the creation of a female football league. This is in a land where girls can’t yet play football in school.

In just a few short years, she says, “despite the in-house fighting and the political intimidation and Ebola, we’ve been able to get. Female administrators are interested in football more now than ever. We’ve been able to get female coaches and female referees participating in courses. We’ve got the grassroots coaches and also the grassroots programs coming up, which is very good. We’re also building, refurbishing a new center.”

Isha is disrupting, less for herself, than for those who come after her, “I would love to see my son’s generation and those that come after him, have something to really look forward to. Having a lot of hope.”

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