Home News Asisat Oshoala: From Defiant Adolescent to African Football Icon at Women’s World Cup 2023

Asisat Oshoala: From Defiant Adolescent to African Football Icon at Women’s World Cup 2023

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Asisat Oshoala

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Asisat Oshoala’s father confesses that he was initially against her becoming a football player and would chastise her when she would come back from playing with friends on Nigerian streets.

“My objective was for all of my children to achieve advanced levels of education and to surpass the accomplishments of their parents,” Alhaji Oshoala shared with the BBC, “I did not envision a promising future for her in football.”

However, he now takes delight in his obstinate daughter’s tenacity, as Asisat became the inaugural Nigerian footballer – regardless of gender – to net goals in three distinct World Cup tournaments.

The Barcelona striker will confront England on Monday, in the Round of 16 of the Fifa Women’s World Cup. Alhaji expresses it has been wonderful to see his daughter excel in this international competition.

She did surprise many – including her father – when she disrobed her jersey in a jubilant celebration of her decisive goal against co-hosts Australia in the group stage.

Asisat’s bare-chested celebration stirred some controversy back in Nigeria.

“My dad disapproves of my celebration style,” she posted on Instagram, which sparked fans to request him to forgive her. However, they need not have worried.

“It was a spontaneous emotional reaction and not planned. I am proud of my daughter,” he said, while keeping the exact conversation private. “What transpired between us will remain between us.”

In a 2022 documentary produced by Fifa, the governing body of football, Asisat spoke about the conflict between her parents’ aspiration for her to continue studying to become a lawyer and her own desire for football.

“I discovered my talent in football and wanted to reach its pinnacle,” she said.

“My parents were against me engaging in sports and we had intense disagreements at home. Sometimes I had to escape to my grandma’s place to avoid repercussions.”

Asisat created history by becoming the first Nigerian footballer – of either gender – to score in three World Cups

Eventually, Asisat’s parents allowed her to follow her passion and even permitted her to leave school to pursue a professional football career after she was seen playing amongst boys in Lagos and was recommended to local club FC Robo. This happened when she was just 15, back in 2009.

Emmanuel Osahon, the owner and head coach of the club, noted Asisat’s dedication to the game was immediately apparent in training sessions.

“Asisat was obedient yet stubborn on the pitch. She would refuse to eat when she didn’t score,” Osahon recollected.

The coach also acknowledged that Asisat’s success has inspired a new generation of Nigerian female footballers to emulate her.

“I currently have more than 10 players hoping to become the next Asisat Oshoala,” he shared.

Asisat’s tenure in Nigeria lasted until 2015 when Liverpool signed her, leading to her move overseas. She also spent two seasons in China before transferring to Barcelona in 2019.

In 2021, she made history by becoming the first African female footballer to secure a Uefa Champions League victory.

Asisat’s struggle to convince her family to allow her to pursue football led to her opening the Asisat Oshoala Academy, an all-girls football school in Lagos, last year.

She has pledged to ease the path for others on her website: “I’ve always aimed to give back to the girls in my community, and I believe this football academy will create opportunities for more girls to excel through a blend of sports and education.”

Since 2014, Asisat has served her national team and has been crowned African Women’s Footballer of the Year a record five times.

Her contributions aren’t just confined to the pitch. She’s been vocal about issues such as disputes over unpaid bonuses and allowances with the Nigerian Football Federation, which overshadowed the team’s World Cup preparations.

“It’s not always the best image to stage protests because the players just want to concentrate on football,” she told the BBC in June.

Nigeria has numerous Women’s African Cup titles, but their best World Cup finish was reaching the quarter-finals in 1999.

This year’s competition has already witnessed its fair share of shocks, and Asisat and her teammates are now considering the possibility of defeating England, the reigning continental champions and title contenders.

“Our team has a lot to offer, and the world has seen it [at the World Cup],” she said in a post-match interview following the game against Australia.

One thing is sure, her father will be eagerly watching the match on his TV back in Nigeria, rooting for his daughter. “Nothing can hinder Nigeria now. They will emerge victorious,” he stated.

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Tunde44 August 8, 2023 - 12:18 am

When i saw Asisat rip off her shirt after scoring, I knew she’s got that fire in her. Keep making us proud, sister!

FootyFan101 August 8, 2023 - 1:24 am

Asisat is a legend, simple as that! I watched her play at Barcelona, she’s world class.

SarahOlu August 8, 2023 - 2:25 am

Wow, what a journey for Asisat! so inspiring for young girls everywhere to chase their dreams! Go Nigeria!!!

Eze_C August 8, 2023 - 2:34 am

her father must be so proud now, from scolding her for playing football to watching her make history on the world stage, life can be funny.

ProudlyNaija August 8, 2023 - 3:06 am

The world is finally seeing what we in Nigeria have known all along. Asisat is a star!! her academy is such a great initiative too.

AnnieD August 8, 2023 - 8:05 am

Football or lawyer, she made the right choice i think :D.

JamesUK August 8, 2023 - 8:39 am

I’m English but i gotta admit, Asisat’s one hell of a player. Hope we don’t get a thrashing from her on Monday.


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