One of the first stars of women’s football in Africa, Mercy Akide-Udoh was a trailblazer in more ways than one. An exciting attacking player, she starred for Nigeria in three FIFA Women’s World Cups, two Olympic Football Tournaments and won three African titles with the Super Falcons. She was named by CAF as the first African Women’s Footballer of the Year in 2002 and was appointed an Ambassador for women’s football by FIFA in 2005. She came to the United States to play in the now-defunct WUSA for its inaugural season, was named MVP of the W-League in leading Hampton Roads to the title in 2003, and she remained in the USA to coach young girls since retiring. She talked with FIFA.com recently about her passion for football and for giving back using the sport.
Did you suffer from discrimination as a young woman playing football?
Not me, but the players in 1991 [at the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup] broke the barrier, and then me and others came in ‘95. And people in my life really supported me. I had two brothers that always encouraged me to play with them and their friends on the street. I did have a couple of friends whose parents did not want them to keep playing or have anything to do with soccer because they felt like it was a men’s game. And they were very good players, better than me, but because they didn’t get that support, they had to quit. The only problem I had was people would say about me ‘oh look at her, she looks like a boy, she’s not a girl’. I was fit and muscular and like a tomboy, so people would talk about me, but I didn’t care.
Do you think the emergence of women’s football was part of a larger social change, and why do you think Nigeria was at the forefront of that in Africa?
Number one: Nigeria is a football country. We love football, and we believe anyone who loves the game can play the game. People saw we could play, so there was encouragement. Then it became women helping women to feel good about themselves, learning that they can do anything they put their minds to. And so now you have more women in government. Before you didn’t have that. Women now are trying to not just be housewives. They might still care for their home and their children, but they realise they can do more if they want.
And women’s football is catching up across the continent.
All of the teams are trying to beat Nigeria, and they are all growing and focusing on the girls. That can only help the World Cup. In Africa, there are many different cultures. We have Muslims and Christians, and they all love the game. There are Muslims who cover their face and still kick the ball. That’s the love of the game. More women are putting in energy and time to make football a point for young girls to play.
What did it mean to you to be one of the first recognised African women playing football at a high level?
I love the game, and so whenever any games were on I always watched them. They were men’s games, but then when the girls started to play I always dreamed and thought I could become a professional player. I’m grateful I achieved that, and then I said to myself ‘I can do more’. I am so passionate about the game and wanted to give back with the talent that I had, so that’s how I got to coaching.
And you have been coaching in the USA since you stopped playing.
Little kids have looked up to me as a role model, and I can teach them – not just about soccer but about all aspects of life. I’m a mom too, so I understand what a kid needs. I always knew someday I would go back home, but I felt like I had a lot to share here and there was more opportunity for me to get experience. In Nigeria, we have talent but sometimes we don’t work to develop it. I would like to help the Federation with ideas on improving the standard of the women’s league because right now it’s in a bad state.
How else are you thinking about helping Nigerian women’s football?
I’ll be trying to help young girls earn scholarships to US colleges. That’s how I got my big break, and the time is right for me to look to help others to achieve their dreams. Starting this summer when I go back home, I’m starting a program called Play2Learn where I will run camps for girls in high schools in Nigeria and pick those who can really play, and also have the right educational qualifications for recommendation to coaches. It will help fill a need for both sides as the schools need talented players, and the players get a chance to get an education while playing the game. Hopefully, with time, I can spread it to the rest of Africa.
You have been mentioned as a possible future coach of the Nigerian national team as well. Is that on your radar?
I hope some day I can coach the national team. That’s my passion. There are things we are lacking, and I want to go back and help my country with my experience playing and coaching. I still have that fire in me.
There was controversy a few years ago when disparaging remarks were made about homosexuality. What did you make of that?
For me, I don’t know what that was all about. After coaching and as an ex-player, with friends on my teams, I didn’t see that stuff or know anything about it. I don’t go into people’s business. It’s their life. I cannot tell you not to go and get married, or tell you to go with this person or not. I’m not in a place to judge or control anybody. You are there to play soccer, and that’s all.
Did you ever suffer any other kind of discrimination?
Not really. The only thing I had a problem with was that back home we’re not outspoken, and if you don’t relate to your coach sometimes they feel like you’re ignorant or not paying attention. It’s hard for Africans to come to a different culture and start talking and feel like they have some control. It’s how we treat older people: we don’t come talk to you unless you come talk to us. But then I started learning that people were just different. I used to take it wrong, but not anymore because I realised that they just don’t know my culture or where I’m coming from.
Source: PM News
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Kano Transfers Over 1,000 Almajiris To Different States Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic
The Kano State Government on Saturday said it has transferred 1,098 ‘almajiris’ to different states of the country.
The commissioner for local government, Murtala Garo, disclosed this while presenting a report before the state’s task force on COVID-19 at the government house, Kano.
Almajiris are children who are supposed to be learning Islamic studies while living with their Islamic teachers. Majority of them, however, end up begging on the streets of Northern Nigeria. They constitute a large number of Nigeria’s over 10 million out-of-school children.
Mr Garo said the Kano government transported 419 almajiris to Katsina, 524 to Jigawa and 155 to Kaduna. He said all of them tested negative for coronavirus before leaving the Kano State.
Despite the coronavirus test done in Kano for the almajiris, the Jigawa government earlier said it would quarantine for two weeks all the almajiris that recently arrived from Kano.
Mr Garo said another 100 almajiris scheduled to be taken to Bauchi State also tested negative to COVID-19.
In a remark, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje said the COVID-19 situation in Kano was getting worse. He appealed for a collaborative effort to curtail the spread of the virus in the state.
Mr Ganduje, who commended residents for complying with the lockdown imposed in the state, said the decision was taken to halt the spread of the virus.
Kano State, as of Saturday night, has 77 coronavirus cases, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
The decision to transfer the Kano almajiris is part of the agreement reached between Northern governors that almajiris in each state be transferred to their states of origin.
However, even before the latest agreement by the governors, the Kano government had been transferring almajiris to other states and neighbouring countries after it banned street begging in the state, most populous in Northern Nigeria.
Despite the transfers, however, no concrete step has been taken to ensure such children do not return to Kano streets as there is freedom of movement across Nigeria although interstate travel was recently banned to check the spread of the coronavirus.
Sourced From: Premium Times Nigeria
COVID-19: ‘Bakassi Boys’ Foil Attempt To Smuggle 24 Women Into Abia In Container
By Ugochukwu Alaribe
Operatives of the Abia State Vigilante Service, AVS, popularly known as ‘Bakassi Boys’ have arrested 24 market women hidden in a container truck, at Ekwereazu Ngwa, the boundary community between Abia and Akwa Ibom states.
The market women, said to be from Akwa Ibom State, were on their way to Aba, when they were arrested with the truck driver and two of his conductors for violating the lockdown order by the state government.
Driver of the truck, Moses Asuquo, claimed he was going to Aba to purchase stock fish, but decided to assist the market women, because they were stranded.
A vigilante source told Sunday Vanguard that the vehicle was impounded while the market women were sent back to Akwa Ibom State.
Commissioner for Home Land Security, Prince Dan Okoli, who confirmed the incident, said that smuggling of people into the state poses great threat to the state government’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID- 19.
Sourced From: Vanguard News
Woman Kills Her Maid Over Salary Request
Operatives of the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Yaba of the Lagos State police command have arrested one Mrs Nene Steve for allegedly killing her maid, Joy Adole
The maid was allegedly beaten to death by Nene for requesting for her salary at their residence located at 18, Ogundola Street, Bariga area in Lagos.
Narrating the incident, Philips Ejeh, an elder brother to the deceased said that he was sad when they informed him that his sister was beaten to death.
He explained that the deceased was an indigene of Benue State brought to Lagos through an agent and started working with her as a maid in January 2020.
‘’She reported that her boss refused to pay her and anytime she asked for her salary she will start beating her.
She was making an attempt to leave the place but due to the total lockdown she remained there until Sunday when her boss said she caught her stealing noodles and this led to her serious beating and death,’’ Ejeh said.
He called on Lagos State Government and well- meaning people in the country to help them in getting justice for the victim.
The police spokesman, Bala Elkana, stated that the woman and her husband came to Bariga Police Station to a report that their house girl had committed suicide.
Detectives were said to have visited the house and suspected foul play with the position of the rope and bruises all over the body which confirmed that the girl had been tortured to death and the boss decided to hang up the girl to make it look like suicide.
He said: “The police moved on with their investigation and found a lot of sign of violence on her body that she has been tortured before a rope was put on her neck.’’
He added that the police removed the corpse and deposited it in the mortuary for autopsy to further ascertain the cause of the death.
Elkana said the matter has been transferred from Bariga police station to Panti for further investigation while the couple have been arrested and will be charged to court.
Boko Haram Attacks: Buhari Summons Urgent Meeting Of Service Chiefs
Ostensibly alarmed by the latest killings of dozens of soldiers by Boko Haram insurgents, President Muhammadu Buhari has summoned an urgent meeting of Service Chiefs to find ways to stop the trend.
He has also dispatched the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali, to the neighbouring Republic of Chad for an urgent meeting with President Idris Deby and his defence counterpart.
Knowledgeable sources said in Abuja on Friday that the president is worried by on the deterioration of security situation on the Nigeria – Chad Border that has led to the recently increased Boko Haram terrorism in the area.
The sources which did not want to be named in Abuja said: “Nigeria has a Chad problem in the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) put together to secure the Lake Chad basin areas and repeal the Boko Haram terrorist attacks against all the countries neighbouring the Lake.”
The sources noted that Chad is believed to be having their own internal security challenges and this has reportedly led to their pulling away their own troops manning their own border around Lake Chad, saying: “That lacuna is being exploited by the Boko Haram terrorists, who go in and out of Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon to launch terrorist acts. This is a clear illustration of the fact that terrorism is beyond national borders.”
When contacted, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, confirmed that the Defence Minister is going to Chad but said he is unaware of the purpose.
Meanwhile, the military authorities are said to be in the process of identifying the families of the latest victims with a view to making contact with them.
Credible sources revealed that it is the reason the president is yet to make any pronouncement on the matter.
“The President has called an urgent meeting with the Service Chiefs, as well as the fact that families of the latest victims of the Boko Haram are being identified and contacts made before a government pronouncement on the tragic attacks. This, it is understood, is the reason for the silence of the government over the incident,” the source said.
Sourced From: Tribune
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