By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde
Sports Writer, kick442.com-Nigeria
In Africa and Nigeria in particular, girl child are often not allowed to play football by their parents. Parents prefer their female wards to venture into lucrative and respected careers like Accounting, Law, Banking and finance, journalism, medicine, etc.
Some do opine that playing football won’t allow their female child marry early and probably their muscular body structure might hinder them from having male suitors.
The above scenario is not the case with the duo of former Super Falcons players, Ann Chiejine and Vera Okolo in this tale of early marriage and early motherhood.
Former Super Falcons goal keeper who was popularly know for her bandana headtie during her playing days, Ann Chiejine recently advised female footballers to marry early based on her personal experience. She said that playing football is not hinderance to early marriage.
“I got married at the age of 17 but was discouraged by my teammates, who thought I wouldn’t be able to hangout with them again. My first daughter is 24 and now I don’t have any regrets. I urge women Footballers to get married in time.” She stated this during 2020 SheFootball Conference.
Chiejine narrated how she met her husband.
“I was training with a team around Kirikiri in Lagos at the time and every evening while returning from work , he would stop by to watch us play, I never knew he had been keeping tabs on me . Soon we became friends and from there , our love story started. I bless God every day for the wonderful opportunity He gave me to meet an awesome man like my husband.”
In similar vein, Vera Okolo, another former Super Falcons player also narrated her experience in terms of early motherhood and merging that with her football career which she is still proud of.
“I got pregnant at the age of 18 and was asked to leave the Falconets camp because I already had a baby, but today, my daughter is a graduate of Soil Science from Obafemi Awolowo University and just finished her compulsory one year National Youth Service. I have no regrets at all.”
Ver Okolo (2004 African Player of the year nominee) further said that due to her experience she decided not to allow her daughter play football until she finish with her academics.
“She wants to play football but I would not allow her because I could not further my education because of football. My father disowned me for playing soccer. Although he is late now, he said if I played football that he would disown me.”
The above story is a testament to the fact that playing football as a lady/woman should not be hinderance or stumbling block to early marriage and education.
Women Footballers in contemporary era do merge their football career with academics. Some do marry early. The duo of Adamawa Queens Regina Omede and Sandra Johnosi are good examples of female footballers that merge football with academics. This meant that there are lot of opportunities for women Footballers outside the beautiful game of football.
It is hoped that this article will motivate female Footballers in Nigeria and throughout the world to marry early as well as merge football with academics as we also advise parents to allow their female wards play the beautiful game of football
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