These Super Falcons stars are making a difference in today's Nigeria

IWD 2023 These Super Falcons stars are making a difference in today's Nigeria

Jidechi Chidiezie 08:55 - 08.03.2023
As the world celebrates women, we spotlight the Falcons who have tried, or are trying, to break the bias in Nigerian football.
  • This article was first published in 2022 with the International Women's Day campaign theme #BreakTheBias

Every year, women all around the world are celebrated for their achievements in social, economic, cultural, and political fields.

The International Women’s Day (IWD) – marked on March 8 annually – is also a call to action for accelerating the cause of women's equality.

The yearly celebration has been going on for well over a century, with over a million people attending the first IWD meeting in 1911.

As the world honours women, we look at members of Nigeria's senior women national team who have made an effect in Nigeria and their communities in the past or, are doing so now.

Asisat Oshoala

Asides from playing for Barcelona, the Super Falcons captain spends some of her time off the field, focusing on her foundation, The Asisat Oshoala Foundation.

Super Falcons forward Asisat Oshoala
Oshoala with young girls at the 2019 edition of Football4Girls in Lagos, Nigeria

The foundation, which primarily focuses on the girl child, has been running an annual 'Football4Girls tournament' since 2016.

The 2021 edition had over 16 Nigerian secondary schools and academies take part in a three-day tourney, which also featured a mentorship session, life skills, and a medical programme.

According to Barcelona striker in 2021, she was glad that her Foundation was "doing bits to change the mentality of the parents about their girl children, interested in football."

Desire Oparanozie

In 2019, Super Falcons forward Oparanozie put the Nigerian football world on its toes when she demanded that Nigeria's women's senior football team be paid equally to their male counterparts.

Desire Oparanozie
Desire Oparanozie was stripped of Super Falcons captaincy after the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup

It was a conversation most Nigerian football personalities considered taboo for various reasons. Oparanozie, however, believed it should not have been. 

She cited her demands on the basis that the Super Falcons were Nigeria's most successful football team (with nine titles) and were the only African team to have played at all eight Women's World Cup finals (as of 2019).

"We are the most successful female team in Africa, yet we have the largest disparities between men's and women's pay, I think we deserve equal pay", Oparanozie said at the 2019 Ladies In Sports (LIS) Conference in Lagos.

Oparanozie's wishes though, were never granted. The Super Eagles, as of 2023, are still paid more than their female counterparts.

Oparanozie was recalled to the Super Falcons in 2021 after apologising to the NFF for her role in Nigeria's pay strike at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France

Michelle Alozie

When Houston Dash forward Michelle Alozie was first called up to the Super Falcons, she didn’t necessarily know what to expect. It was her first time in Nigeria without her parents.

While with the Super Falcons, Alozie began learning more about the state of football in Nigeria and realized that she needed to do something to help.

She reached out to her Houston Dash captain, Jane Campbell, collected all the football gear her team members were no longer using and had gathered for donation to the public, and took them back to Nigeria.

Michelle Alozie
Michelle Alozie (L) and Jane Campbell (R) during an international friendly between Nigeria and the United States

With the help of Oshoala and Rasheedat Ajibade, Alozie sent the equipment to youth teams in various parts of the country.

For Alozie, seeing the donation actually get delivered, made her feel "so happy and grateful to be able to bless them [those who needed new cleats]".

Francisca Ordega

For Ordega, breaking the bias shouldn't just focus on women, but also people with disabilities. 

The Super Falcons forward, through her foundation, put smiles on the faces of people with physical disabilities in Gboko - her local community in Benue State, Nigeria.

Ordega bought several brand new wheelchairs and distributed them to those with difficulties, who couldn't afford wheelchairs for going around.

According to her, her mother has always encouraged her to give back to her society without expecting anything in return. 

Rasheedat Ajibade

In 2020, Atletico Madrid forward Rasheedat Ajibade launched a campaign for grassroots footballers in Nigeria.

The #StandOutWithRASH campaign was a contest aimed at footballers who could use social media to show how they stand out on the football field.

Trust Ajibade not to discriminate against either male or female entries in her contest. She used her platform to publicise the top entries to searching football scouts, while also giving out cash gifts, football jerseys, and boots.

Shout out to every woman making an impact one way or the other, in the football scene and beyond. Happy International Women's Day!

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