Despite being one of Africa’s biggest stars of her era, Super Falcons striker Asisat Oshoala believes she could have been playing at a higher level, if she had the right support from her parents.
The Arsenal Ladies forward has won the African Women’s Footballer of the Year (2014), African Women’s Youth Player of the Year (2014), African Women’s Championship Golden Ball (2014), U-20 Women’s World Cup Golden Boot and Golden Ball (2014) and BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year (2015) in a short but glorious career that has seen her climb from the junior ranks to become one of the shining stars of the African game.
But the 22-year-old, who sponsors a youth football tourney for kids in Lagos, said parents needed to help their daughters combine football and education, adding that it was a major reason she organised the U-18 tourney.
“When I was young, I faced a lot of challenges. My parents didn’t want me to play football; they wanted me to go to school. I know the extent this affected me; probably I might be in a higher or better place now but because of the setback I had then. There was confusion and everything, because I was actually very young,” she said.
“You can’t preach to people something you haven’t experienced. I’ve passed through this stage, as a young kid, you can’t convince your parents sometimes. I have tried to educate the parents now; to let them know that there is always a way of doing the two together. You can become a successful professional footballer tomorrow, so it’s not all about school alone.”
After helping the Falconets to a final place finish at the U-20 Women’s World Cup two years ago, Oshoala then fired the Falcons to a seventh African Women’s Cup of Nations title in Namibia, scooping the tournament’s best player award in the process.
But at the 2016 AWCON in Cameroon, the Indomitable Lionesses’ Gabrielle Onguéné was awarded best player with Oshoala settling for the top scorer’s prize with six goals.
She insists she wasn’t disappointed not emerging the tournament’s best player for a second consecutive time.
“In football, anything can happen. You set your goals, and I told myself I wanted to win the trophy; whatever came with it was secondary. But the major thing was bringing back the trophy home.”
On the crisis that rocked the team during and after the AWCON, Oshoala added, “I really don’t see much about what happened; the environment was okay, feeding and every other thing was fine. You would expect me to talk about the NFF issue but it’s an in-house issue and I don’t want to talk about that. It’s not something that should come from a player like me to the public.”
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