Asisat Oshoala is a Nigerian professional footballer who was named best player and highest goal scorer at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. She was also named best player and second top goal scorer with the Super Falcons team who won the 2014 African Women’s Championship. In this interview, Asisat shares her story and her hope for the future.
– By Toyin Eleniyan
Asisat never planned on becoming a professional footballer, but along the line, she developed interest in the game, then went for it when the opportunity presented itself.
While in school in Lagos, Asisat also played football and had the opportunity of joining the national team. She eventually realised she couldn’t do both at the same time and so decided to stop going to school in order to play football professionally.
Getting started was very difficult for her because her parents preferred her education to sports. She started playing football in secondary school with the boys after school hours. She would eventually get home late and get screamed at. However, this didn’t stop her as she played for fun.
Joining her first football club in Lagos was a big opportunity for Asisat. It gave her the opportunity to meet a lot of senior players, and she felt if she put in more effort, she could go higher. Afterwards, she decided to move from Lagos to a bigger club in Rivers state, “Rivers Angels football club”. There she had the opportunity to play more games.
She eventually had to talk to her parents, telling them about her plans for football and how necessary their support was. From Rivers Angels, she went on to U20 World Cup which was a big thing for her and her family, who had given her the opportunity to pursue her football career and now, she is still making them proud. After going for her first World Cup, she felt proud of herself and decided pursue professional football full time.
For female football players in Nigeria, Asisat believes that there has to be a players association that handles the welfare of the players. According to her, their salaries aren’t regularly paid and it’s not encouraging for the younger ones coming up. “I think the board members have to do better for the female league in Nigeria in terms of salary and general welfare because their standard of living is quite low,” stated Asisat.
“Keep doing whatever you are doing,” is Asisat’s encouragement to budding footballers. “Your dreams are valid. Keep putting effort and you will get the right support from people. When starting out, you might not get the support you need but eventually, when people see things are going well, they will have no choice but to support you. I went through the same thing with my parents, but at some point, they had no choice but to support me. As a matter of fact, now they pray for me more than I do pray for myself when it comes to my career. Stay focused and be respectful to those ahead of you because they will lift you up, and that will really go a long way for you.”
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the Spark magazine. Find the magazine here to read other articles.