On Sunday, Barcelona’s female football team (Barca Femenino) won the UEFA Women Champions League for the first time, thrashing Chelsea’s female team 4-0. The team has been exceptional since the beginning of the season in both domestic league and other competitions.
The win cut the streak for Olympic Lyon that has won the prestigious price five times in a row. It also added more to the successful season of Barcelona Feminino, who already have the domestic league (Primera Iberdrola) and other titles in their custody.
One outstanding character in Barcelona Femenino’s team is Asisat Oshoala, a Nigerian import who broke into the beam of football’s history through thick and thin.
It started in her childhood days in Ikorodu, a Lagos suburb. Asisat would wait behind after class to play football for fun with her school mates, and on other occasions, she would sneak out at the cost of getting punished by her parents. She only had her late grand mother on her side. And in an environment where it’s not common for girls to engage in sports activities such as football, her chance of being a professional footballer was slim and up against mammoth parental opposition.
“When I was growing up, my parents didn’t support me obviously. The only person I had who was supportive was my grand mother … she was the only person in family. Even when I go out (to play football) and my mother wanted to beat me or my daddy wanted to beat me, or say we are not going to give you food today because you left what you were supposed to do and went out to play, she (my grandma) was the only person who would feed me,” Asisat said in an interview with BBC.
VAAAAAAAAMMMMOOOOSSSS !!! ??????? pic.twitter.com/SLOHe2CSBG
— ASISAT M.O.N (@AsisatOshoala) May 16, 2021
The turning point in her parents’ opposition came when she finished from school. She said: “When I finished from my tertiary institution, I had like months doing nothing. So I just spoke to my parents maybe they can allow me play just for fun.”
With her prayer granted, Asisat used her new found freedom to develop her football skills and passion for a football career. Her break came when she was spotted by a scout while playing a tournament for an unknown team. Asisat then started what appeared like a professional football career with FC Robo, a Lagos-based club.
She went on to play for Rivers Angels in Nigeria before she got her big break by signing for Liverpool Ladies. What started as fun was gradually materializing into a professional career that would later put her on world’s stage.
“As time goes on, growing from the team I played for in Lagos, FC Robo, I started picking more interest, I started becoming more passionate, I started seeing football as my job, as my profession. And when I moved to Liverpool I said; ‘this is my job now’,” she told BBC.
Asisat explained that she finally got her parent’s approval when she won the Golden Ball and Golden Boot of the 2014 FIFA U20’s Women’s World Cup. She has since then done the round leather business in many countries, including China. Asisat scored the lone goal for Barcelona in their 4-1 Champions League defeat to Lyon back in 2019 that took the French side’s tally to seven.
She has been on the record for laurels stemming from clubs and national team.
Asisat won the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year (2015) and has four African Women’s Player of the Year awards to her name.
She won the Women’s FA Cup at Wembley in May 2016 with the English side Arsenal Ladies. She finished as the Chinese Women’s Super League top scorer with Dalian Quanjian FC in 2017, with 12 goals to help her club to the title same year.
Although her last-gasp goal was ruled out for offside, so she didn’t score in the Champions League final, her 20 goals record have helped Barcelona to win the Primera Iberdrola back-to-back.
With these titles to her name, what started as fun has turned Asisat Oshoala to the most decorated female footballer in Africa.
“I can only thank God who has made everything possible through sheer hard work, by playing alongside this incredibly talented group that creates a lovely family atmosphere.
“It’s is a great feeling and I can’t really put my emotions into words because it has been a tough journey to get here.
“I hope this will continue to inspire other young girls in Africa and motivate everyone around the world that you can achieve whatever you put your mind to and work hard for it,” she said.