Nigeria is a country blessed with a number of enterprising women in various fields. We see them excel in Business, we watch them make strides in Entertainment, we applaud as they make big moves in Technology, and we cannot ignore how well they represent the country in Sports. They run, they kick, they jump, they wrestle, and they lift. Time and time again they show their competitive edge, and there is perennial evidence of the passion on display as they brave the odds on track, on field and indoors.
Asisat Lamina Oshoala is a Nigerian professional footballer who plays for Spanish Side FC Barcelona Femení (Barcelona’s female football team) as a forward. She was named best player and was the highest goal scorer at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. She was also named best player at the 2014 African Women's Championship, which was won by the Super Falcons. During her stint with the Liverpool Ladies’ football team, then manager, Matt Beard called her "one of the best young players in the world" and she has surely lived up to the billing.
The story of the women’s Bobsled and Skeleton athletes who were the first athletes to represent Nigeria at the Winter Olympics is a widespread one. The origin of that story can be traced to Seun Adigun, a former Nigerian athlete who came out of retirement to inspire teammates Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga at the 2018 Winter Olympics. She was also instrumental in the creation of the Bobsled & Skeleton Federation of Nigeria, a development that ensured that they were able to compete at the Winter Olympics.
Blessing Okagbare continues to be one of the leading faces of sports in Nigeria. The Olympics and World Championships medalist holds the Women's 100 metres Commonwealth Games record for the fastest time at 10.85 seconds. She was the African 100m and long jump champion in 2010, and she has won medals at the All-Africa Games and the IAAF Continental Cup. She has also notably competed in three editions of the Olympic Games.
Photo Credit: The Guardian Nigeria
Rasheedat Ajibade is without a doubt the next big thing in Nigerian women’s football. Ajibade was in sensational form at the 2017 Nigeria Women's Premier League (NWPL), netting eight goals for FC Robo Queens. A standout performer, she was voted the Best Player in the league in the 2016/2017 season. She got a call-up to the Falconets, and she has captained a number of matches. She has grown in status and is billed to become a future influential figure in Nigerian women sports.
In spite of her physical challenges, Esther Oyema has repeatedly proven her mettle as a competitive powerlifter. She won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and set a world record lifting 126kg, then went on to break that record at the 2018 edition of the Games by lifting 131 kg.
Honour should always be given to whom it is due, and one month in a calendar year is not enough to adulate the women who have been worthy ambassadors in their respective fields of endeavour. They are beacons of hope, they give the citizens cause to smile in the face of the country’s problems, and the least we can wish for is that more power goes to their elbows, literally.
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