Giving back makes me complete – Oshoala
As the only Nigerian and African in the 100 best women footballers in the world 2019 packaged by the influential London Guardian, and in line for the CAF African Women Player of the Year 2019 for the fourth time, Asisat Oshoala has attributed the on-going Asisat Oshoala Football Championship for Girls holding at Campos Mini Stadium Lagos, as part of her quest to be responsible and give back to the society.
The first phase of the clinic which has become an annual event is aimed at discovering talented girl footballers in Nigeria and Africa and helping them achieve their dream of playing for world-rated clubs in Europe.
In collaboration with FC Barcelona Academy, the final phase of the clinic will hold from Dec 21-24 where the best of the over 100 talents that started the journey will be selected and processed for Europe.
Speaking with newsmen, the Barcelona and Nigeria striker who on Wednesday again made the iconic 100 female players of the world list, a second year running, said the clinic and other giving were not to showcase herself but to make her responsible and complete.
The Guardian citation on Oshoala, who jumped 31 places from 86th to 55th from the 2018 edition, goes thus; “After helping Nigeria to the Africa Cup of Nations title at the end of 2018, Oshoala embarked on an exciting new journey with Barcelona in 2019 after some time in China. It couldn’t have started much better as Oshoala found the net three times in her first two games and she has been one of the club’s most consistent goal scorers since. She scored a further four goals before finding the net in the Champions League final against Lyon. With her pace, skill and finishing ability, Oshoala was on target at the World Cup but her best form has been seen this season. Two goals in a 6-1 demolition of Atlético Madrid set the tone before she went on to find the net in five consecutive games, scoring six goals.”
The Super Falcons star described herself as sometimes a lone fighter who takes up whatever she believes in without waiting for anyone. That, she said, was behind her resolve to take up the task of liberating girls through her foundation.
On an individual level, she has won awards from everywhere. She was the first BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year in 2015, has won African Women’s Player of the Year award three times and several others.
She said all that awards make no sense if she cannot be responsible for people who are vulnerable in the society.
The fight for the girl-child is uppermost in her heart now.
Oshoala added: “I have an opportunity through football. It is something I acknowledge and I’m grateful for, but beyond football, I am fully concentrated on my foundation.
“Even when I’m not around, my foundation takes care of the less-privileged. We’ve been involved in feeding programmes, especially during Ramadan periods, visiting schools, distributing books and educational materials to students and even partnering with a major pharmaceutical company to donate drugs and health equipment to hospitals.
“I believe it’s the only way I can connect with the grassroots. I have a world outside football and that is exactly why I am fully committed to my youth empowerment programme and other social projects.
“Life is all about opportunities. I won’t say I was the best player among my friends in those days. I think I am fortunate and feel I must be responsible for the others and younger ones coming after.”
Oshoala hinted that her foundation has also been doing behind the scene consultation with parents of talented girls to make them understand the need to support their girl-children who aspire to become professional footballers.
“I am trying to change the mentality and help this generation to believe they can achieve whatever they want. With my foundation, I want to help the under-privileged girls, so that they attend school and play football at the same time.”
The 2019 edition of the football clinic where hundreds of young girls, including parents, are enlightened and educated on how their female children can become professional footballers is ongoing in Lagos currently.
“We have brought in the academy wing of my club FC Barcelona to help us out and partner with us because they have the expertise and we have coaches from them coming to see with their own eyes. Also my colleagues from my former club, FC Robo, are on ground to oversee things for me.
Oshoala is also in the forefront of anti-drug campaign as a Lagos State Anti-Drug Ambassador. “I have achieved by staying drug free, so we tell and sensitise the young ones against drug abuse and motivate them to be believe in themselves,” she said.