Ngozi Okobi opened up to us about a range of topics, including what it was like for her as a young girl playing football, her plans for the future and much more.
Name: Ngozi Sonia Okobi
Born 14 December 1993
Club: Eskilstuna Untied DFF (Sweden)
2x played at the FIFA Women’s World Cup (2015, 2019)
4x African Women Cup of Nations winner (2010, 2014, 2016, 2018)
Q: Tell us about your childhood. What was it like where you grew up ?
A: “I grew up in Warri, Delta State, where lots of people want to play football. I grew up playing with boys in a club called ‘Top Start’ but when i got to the stage that i started growing breasts, my coach moved me to a female team called ‘ Living Boot’.
I used to walk long distances everyday after school, just to get to training so i had to save whatever little money I had to pay as a ‘ Daily due’.
I had the opportunity to play in several tournaments in Edo State. I did that throughout my time in secondary school.”
Q: What was your support system like as a young girl who was playing football ? Who did you look up to ?
A: “I never had good support. My greatness today is that I knew I had talent that only God could destroy. My dad never wanted me to play and some of my sibling, all because they said I’m too intelligent to be a footballer, because they felt footballers were rascals.”
“Funny enough there where no role models, I was only inspired by people around me. I was told that I’m a good footballer and how far I could go if I work hard.”
Q: What motivated you to pursue your dream of playing professionally ? And what point did you realize you could make it for sure professionally ?
A: “Like I said, I had the oppotunity to play in some tournaments, where I saw girls playing football for the first time. They were already better players than I was at the time, so I had no option that to keep doing more.”
“I realized that I could make it professionally when I first left my home to pursue admission into university.”
Okobi Ngozi is a 4-time African Women’s Championship winner with the Super Falcons, and has represented Nigeria at two editions of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
She currently plays her football for Eskilstuna United DFF in Sweden’s Obos Damallsvenskan, following sints with Vittsjo (in Sweden) and Washington Spirit in the United States of America National Womens Super League.
Q: What was the first club you signed for professionally ?
A: “Remo queens (Delta, Nigeria) was my first club.”
Q: How would you describe yourself as a footballer ?
A: “I would say I’m an intelligent player who understands how football is been played. My biggest strenght is that i have the ability to read the game and one of my weaknesses was that I was not tough physically, which I have actually worked on, so it is no longer a weakness. Right now, I still have the challenger of winning headers and balls in the air.”
Q: What are your short term goals for yourself and in your football career ?
A: “My short term goal is to earn a lot, so that I can support young girls who are willing to play football. I also want to be a source of livelihood for widows, the homeless and even orphans.”
Q: How was the experience of playing at the 2019 World Cup ? Was the tournament a success for you ?
A: “The 2019 World Cup was a great experience for me and for the team as well. The Super Falcons have proven to the world that we can be the best in the world if things are done the right way.”
Q: What has it been like for you playing in Sweden for the past 3 years ?
A: “I am having a great time here. I have made so much improvement to my game from playing in Sweden.
Q: How does it compare to playing in the Nigerian League ?
A: “There is a very big difference in both leagues. In Nigeria, we do not have enough facilities, no good salaries….so many things.”
Q: What is your biggest dream for yourself in your career ?
A: “The biggest achievement I would love to have, is to win the World Cup and be named the World’s best player in the same year.”
Q: What is your most memorable career highlight so far ?
A: “It is the Nigeria vs Sweden game at the 2015 Women’s World Cup (in Canada). I’ve so many fun moments, even in the league.”
Q: What would be your message to young girls and boys who aspire to play professionally some day ?
A: “Playing football is fun, but never abandon education for football because one can not be complete footballer without education.
Be courageous, work hard and never give up.”
Q: What team did you support while growing up ?
A: “I used to be a Manchester United fan. Right now, i just enjoy good football.”
Q: Who is your favourite player right now ?
A: “Ronaldo and Messi, cos I would love to have their both quality (2 in 1).”
Q: Who is your favourite Nigerian player right now ?
A: “Female. They are all my favourites. Male? Yes, it’s Wilfred Ndidi.”
Q: Do you have any pre-match superstitions ?
A: “Yes, Prayer, because I’m a christian.”
Q: Do you have a favourite pre-match meal ?
Q: Nike or Adidas ?
Q: Jollof rice or fried rice ?
Q: Casual or Traditional ?
A: Both, but casual more.
I am Mrs Ngozi Sonia Okobi-Okeoghene
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Photo Credits: Getty Images