ASISAT OSHOALA’S FIFA AWARDS SPARK GLOBAL INTEREST: Exposes the Plights of Women Football in Nigeria

Asisat Oshoala, the 19 years old player of Rivers Angels football club, scored 7 goals and 2 assists for Nigeria’s Super Falconets in the just concluded FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada – which earned her the Adidas Golden Boot as well as the Adidas Golden Ball for the highest goal scorer and the most outstanding player of the tournament.

Oshoala’s brace in the semi finals game against Korea DPR, and her 4 goals, 1 assist, quickly took her to global spotlight. Suddenly, everyone is interested to know about this tall ebony girl from Nigeria.

It came at a time when you would rather say, Nigeria women football is in crisis! Well, it’s not as though anyone really care, not even the country’s football federation (NFF), which largely discriminated between the men and the women football teams.

Indeed, Oshoala is a product of a shoddily organized Nigeria Women Premier League, which is always saddled with lots of postponements and walkover matches. Partly because most women football clubs in Nigeria were poorly funded and teams couldn’t honor some of their away matches. Majorly because the women premier league board is in shambolic state due to unnecessary leadership struggles


So then, how did Oshoala arise from the doldrums to develop such incredible skills: threatened opponents with her speed, astute judgment of the ball and unflinching vision for goals that got her the nickname, ‘Super Zee.’ Yet she wasn’t exposed to any of the modern football tactical regimen or training facilities like the German players.

“It was sheer passion for the game.” According to some Rivers Angels players that spoke with BBC Africa. “We live our lives drinking Garri or eating Ewa (Beans Paste) and Bread together. We hardly even get paid of the stipends, as stated in our employment contract.” One of the players who preferred to remain anonymous. Complained.

But Adidas # My Girls documentary tried to tell the story of Oshoala and the Rivers Angels. “On a dirt pitch beneath an elevated motorway, with sound of trucks and cars whizzing overhead, the Rivers Angels football club keep training hard. They run sprints and jump over series of tires hoping the explosive exercise will boost their endurance and build their quads. But the thought of out-scoring their opponents often overshadows all the pains.”

“Whether kicking ball beneath a motorway or running along the beaches of Lagos, the girls frequently look to Oshoala for guidance. Sometimes, she takes them aside to explain how to bend a ball or improve a corner kick. Other times, she reassures players after the coach has dished out harsh criticism.’ The documentary testifies.

“Oshoala is a bundle of natural talents and some of the things she did with ball marvel me.”  Stella Ayinde, a member of the Falconets explained.

Oshoala’s individual brilliance wasn’t all about this Super Falconets. In fact, we saw the fans rooting for what they tagged ‘three sisters – Asisat Oshoala, Courtney Dike and Uchechi Sunday. These girls shone like million stars.

Courtney Dike scored one of the fastest goals in the tournament, with just 2 minutes into the match against Korea DPR; assisted by Oshoala.

Uchechi Sunday became a Super Sub, coming from the substitute bench three times and scored in each occasion.

Apart from Courtney Dike who play her football with the Oklahoma state University in the United States, other members of the heroines Falconets are products of the Nigerian league.

To think of a poorly organized league producing such great players is something of an irony.  It’s amazing really and the Nigerian women national teams of all categories have dominated the African women football scene for over two decades now. Challenging the world and producing great stars like Mercy Akide, Florence Omagbemi, Maureen Madu and perhaps, the greatest African women footballer of all time, Perpetual Nkwocha.

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