I’d get in trouble for playing football – I didn’t get to sleep at home
Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala has opened up on her route to the top of the game and how her love for football would often get her into trouble at home.
The Barcelona star became the first African player to win the UEFA Women’s Champions League in May,
While on that journey to the highest point, her parents have certainly changed their previously sceptical ways and the striker has also noticed massive changes in general in how women’s football is viewed – with even bigger changes to come.
What has Oshoala said?
Speaking to CNN, Oshoala said: “As an African girl child, they say things like, ‘Oh, you’re a girl. You’re not supposed to be playing football. You’re supposed to be at home, helping your mother’. They see soccer or football as a male dominated game.
“Each time I [would] go to play football or something, I’m always in trouble. Sometimes, I don’t get to sleep at home. I had to go to my grandmother’s place to sleep at night. Some days my [mother] wouldn’t even give me money for food. Back then, it wasn’t the same. It was different, entirely different orientation.
“I made [my parents] believe that, okay, if they make young kids go after their dreams, there’s always something positive to come out of it. Today, I think they realise that. They’re now the ones who call me. They know my game even before I tell them!”
‘The next 10-15 years will be all about women’s soccer’
The change hasn’t just been in how Oshoala’s parents view women playing football, either. She has noticed changes in general at home and believes there are big things to come for the game worldwide.
“When I was growing up, I never, personally, wore a jersey with a female player’s name on the back,” she explains. “When I go home to Nigeria, a lot of people have a Barcelona jersey with my name. When I see this, I’m just always smiling. Like, wow. It’s been quite the journey.
“When I see these young girls in Lagos, when I go home with my foundation, I’m just so happy. Sometimes I just sit on the sideline and just start smiling. People’s dreams are actually coming to life. They are seeing the future. They’re seeing the possibility of becoming a professional soccer player. I’m really jealous because they have everything!
“The next five, 10, 15 years, it’s going to all be about women’s soccer because the men’s game, it’s like they’ve got everything already. You can see the fights now. They want the [European] Super League, they want this. They’re trying to see what they can bring in now because they’ve done everything already.
“The money’s there, the TV rights is there, everything is there. Whatever you do now with the women’s game, it’s new, it’s new, it’s new – and people want to see something new.
“Women’s soccer is going to be big. Definitely you’re going to have some male players and women’s players on the same level plus minus. It’s very achievable. Trust me.”