21-year old Super Falcons player, Asisat Lamina Oshoala, had the opportunity to speak at the FIFA Women’s Football and Leadership Conference in Switzerland, on the title ‘Equality Through Reform’. The Ikorodu-born Muslim, who is also BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year, 2015, says if women football receives more investment at the grassroots, especially in Africa, in the next five years there will be great progress in the continent, not just in sports but also in the economy.
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The Arsenal Ladies player, featured longside 2012 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, Abby Wambach, Samar Nassar (Chief Executive Director of the Local Organising Committee for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan 2016) and Brigitte Henriques (General Secretary of the French Football Association), on the conference. She appealed to FIFA, African leaders, football administrators and football legends, to help move women’s football forward.
Football is creating a lot of opportunity for youths. Football has helped us to meet people not just in Africa, Nigeria or the world, and to make the world more fun. Religious beliefs in Africa, Nigeria to be precise, there are some parts that believe women are not expected to be involved in sports. There are also cultural beliefs that women are not supposed to play football becuase it could get them stressed out.
There’s nothing you can tell these people, they will tell you that their kids are not going to play football. That football is for the men not women. We have poor facilities in Africa, talking about the pitches. We sometimes play on sandy and rocky pitches which matters. The grassroot is the future of football. That’s what I believe. It’s not about what you get now, but it’s about what you can give in now and get later.
So we all need to invest in women’s football. If we can invest now, in the next five years we can celebrate the success. I think this is more of the things you need to do. Sometimes I tell people that you don’t have to wait for your federation to do things, I organized an Under 17 women competition without the support of my federation. If 100 people can do that, I think we will achieve a lot more in five years.
This is a different project for us (women). We can talk to Fifa about having women publications to showcase women football stars and games as well as attract sponsorship and encourage business. I’m here representing Africa, the moving forward of women football in Africa begins with me. I accept that as a responsiblity. Next when I’ll be here I will be glad that I said it here and it happened.
I want to say to everyone to please do whatever you can do to help move women’s football forward. Please do it. I’m not going to wait any longer. Don’t worry about what’s going to happen now because the start may be difficult but I know in the future we will be happy at the end.
Over the years, Asisat has done pretty well in sports. The Queen of The Pitch, 2014, who was also African Women’s Championship Winner and FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Runner-up in the same year, believes that every woman has what it takes to build their nation through football, and with the right foundation, African women can achieve even more than what she has. Asisat was also African Women’s Footballer of the Year in 2014. Her other honors include African Women’s Championship Golden Ball, 2014, and FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Golden Boot: 2014, among others.