22 April 2013
Last updated at 00:38
In Senegal, traditional wrestling is more popular than football, with the champions making their fortunes and becoming national celebrities. In most of the country, the sport is only for men but in the remote, southern region of Casamance, there is a long history of female wrestling and so the national team all come from Casamance. Text and photos by the BBC's Laeila Adjovi.
These women train several times a week at the local beach. Traditional wrestling is slightly different to the Olympic sport and the women have to be taught certain techniques if they want to take their passion to another level. The most famous female wrestler in Senegal, Isabelle Sambou, is from Casamance. She went to the Olympic Games in London last year and got fifth place.
Sirefina Diediou joined the national team last year. She says she used to wrestle boys at school and it took a lot of convincing for her mother to accept her love of the sport, but now she encourages her to pursue her career, as long as she keeps working hard at school. Some of Ms Diediou's friends still tell her she will never find a husband, but she does not care. “I love wrestling, I love sport, and I have an objective - to be a great athlete,” she says.
Wrestling goes along with traditional dances. At the recent Rice Fields festival in the village of Diembering, male wrestlers clad in traditional garment line up for a dance at the opening of the wrestling tournament.
The young men who cannot wrestle dress up as women and entertain the crowds. Edouard (L) is a young accountant in a real estate agency in the nearby resort of Cap Skirring. He could not wrestle because he hurt his foot. But it is no excuse not to be part of the show.
The dancing is supposed to show the strength and fearlessness of the wrestlers. They knock their spears into the ground as they dance. At the Rice Fields festival, women were not involved in this performance but, on other occasions, they also dance before wrestling.
Many items of the wrestlers' outfits have meanings, such as the colour of the fabric they wear. In Casamance, where many people are animists, as well as other parts of Senegal, many male wrestlers wear charms to bring them good luck but Ms Diediou says this is much less common among female wrestlers.
Some of the young girls were wrestling for the first time at the festival, because there were prizes to win, such as toys, bikes or computers.
Pulling hair is not allowed, but the referee does not seem to be paying attention on this occasion.
Girls are supposed to remove all their jewellery before competing, but some of them ignore the rules.
Fewer girls take part in wrestling nowadays because they go to school and university and also sometimes because of early pregnancies, says wrestling organiser Karafa Diatta.
In the past, there was no referee - the spectators would decide the winner. Each village would have its wrestlers, who would travel around the region to take part in tournaments. Now, the hope is that Senegal can build on these traditions to become a real power in the world of female wrestling.