• ‘She prayed for me and believed in me,’ says soccer star • Nigeria is on verge of winning African title after win over Ghana
Asisat Oshoala: How a grandmother’s belief gave birth to an African soccer superstar
Ghana’s Asisat Oshoala was not the first African female footballer to make her mark at the World Cup but she hopes her presence will give hope to other women playing across the continent.
“Of course we feel very honoured but what I do hope that we can bring the youth to develop and let them know that they can make it,” Oshoala said after Nigeria clinched their seventh African title by beating Ghana 4-2 on Sunday.
“She prayed for me and believed in me.”
The 2017 African Women’s Championship in Namibia provided the year’s standout female sporting event and gave Oshoala, who plays for Barcelona’s Castilla, a platform to show the world what she can do.
She was already a prolific scorer for her country’s national team and in January the Nigeria Football Federation picked her to join a squad that represented the continent at the Fifa U-20 World Cup in South Korea, a tournament where she scored three goals.
“Having a dream and working hard has worked for me and I hope to continue to do the same,” Oshoala said at the weekend.
“Having a mother who believes in you, that makes you appreciate what you do.”
Just over five years ago Oshoala, who is an only child, was working as a maid in her mother’s house in the Niger Delta.
She admits she had no money for football training and often went hungry. “For years I struggled to eat, sometimes I would go hungry. When I ate I went running in the street.”
Play Video 3:07 Asisat Oshoala: ‘Football is not for boys’ – video
The assistance of a sponsor meant that now she often trains with some of the best in the world.
Nigeria coach, Edwin Okon, said that Oshoala’s own upbringing did not hurt her career.
“Let’s not forget how humble she is. As her mother’s daughter, I was always asking her to sing,” he said.
After winning Namibia the championship, Oshoala took a pit stop in her homeland to celebrate with the Nigeria team before flying to South Africa, where she again helped her country claim a bronze medal.