By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde
Sports Writer, kick442.com Nigeria
Edo Queens goalkeeper, Udoka Unachukwu Rachel is optimistic about her side’s Super 4 quest as football fans await the kick-off of 2019-2020 Nigeria Women Premier League, NWPL amid COVID-19 pandemic.
She disclosed this in an exclusive chat with kick442.com
“I believe by the grace of God this season we are hoping to top our group and qualify for Super 4 as well. My target last season was to help my team qualify for the Super 4, but unfortunately I didn’t meet up with the target. I felt very sad when we didn’t qualify for the super 4 last season and will work hard so that we can correct that this season.” She said
The former Divine Success Football Club, Martin’s White Dove FC, and Delta Queens goalkeeper also shed light on how she started her career as well as parental supports.
“I started my football career at the age of nine in Kano state. Although my dad had to stop me so I can concentrate on my studies. After then, I lost interest in the game, but later I found my self in the game and I was training secretly so my dad won’t find out but you know nothing can be hidden. He later found out and was like it’s up to you if you feel this is what you truly want to do I won’t stop you anymore. I resumed fully but unfortunately I lost my dad in 2014. We left Kano and moved down to the east and I found a club in Azia under Ihiala local government.”
“I started as a player but I had an interest in goalkeeping because I used to watch one of my senior then and I do practice goalkeeping at home. When I got to Anambra, I wasn’t giving that opportunity to play. Chiamaka Nnadozie was my teammate. She went for the Airtel competition. There was no goalkeeper, so I told my coach that I have some ideas about goalkeeping. He gave me the opportunity, I grabbed it with all hands and work hard to be a better goalkeeper someday. Above all, I thank God for where I am now and where he is taking me to.” She said told kick442.
“At first, my dad wasn’t in support until I had to finish my Secondary School. My mum tries to stop me too when we came down to the east but I was being stubborn pursuing my career not until 2017 when I wanted to sign with Delta Queens that she allowed me. I had to convince her and promise to work hard to be the best.”
CoronaVirus has caused a lot of disruption to major sporting events including the 2019-2020 NWPL season. Udoka supports the postponement of football activities as she also took us through her training routine during this period.
“We are talking about lives here and this pandemic affects almost all the country in this world and they put everything on hold. Why will ours be different? I support the postponement of the league due to the virus. I have some goalkeepers around me, so we do meet on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday for ball work. Then the rest days I just go on my own for a light workout.”
“I think rebranding the league is a good idea from our able Chairperson. She is putting all effort to make the league be the best in Africa.
Last season league was an abridged league because we started late, so they are trying to rush everything so that we can meet up. I believe our Chairperson is really trying hard to bring the league to the best flight”
When the league kicks off, Edo Queens will start their league campaign away at Abia Angels. The goalkeeper is also confident that Edo Queens will be able to come back with a favourable away result.
“Edo Queens are coming home with a point either three or one point, but we aren’t leaving there with nothing.
“In the next five years, I see myself playing in the top club in Europe. That has been my target and I pray that God will perfect it.” She concluded.
With three experienced goalkeepers in the mould of Christy Ohiaeriaku, Obidinma Nkiruka, and Rachael Udoka, it is expected that Edo Queens defence line will be marshalled by one of the best save hands in the league come next season.
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