Harambee Starlets striker Esse Akida reveals what Israelis did to her that nearly saw her quit football

© Esse Akida (Twitter)

FOOTBALL Harambee Starlets striker Esse Akida reveals what Israelis did to her that nearly saw her quit football

Joel Omotto 06:00 - 19.07.2023

The former Thika Queens forward is currently shining in Greece with PAOK but she would not have been there had she not overcome a tough spell in Israel.

Harambee Starlets striker Esse Akida has opened up on facing racism in Israel so much so that she almost gave up on her football career.

Akida left Thika Queens (now Kenya Police Bullets FC) for her first stint abroad and joined Israeli Ligat Nashim club FC Ramat HaSharon in October 2018.

However, her excitement would soon turn into despair as she was not only forced to content with the change in culture but also met harsh treatment from her new teammates and club management.

“It is never easy out there, you have to adapt to climatic changes, culture and food,” Akida told NTV.

“Being my first time abroad, I saw things from a different perspective. I saw things like racism that football players over there face. It was not easy but I had to learn through it.

“I experienced that (racism) so bad but when you’re new to these people and they don’t know what you can give, they tend to frustrate you to bring you down but I thank God that I managed.

“It wasn’t easy, I underwent one or two challenges which I do not want to mention but the normal ones you could say are abuses, the coach could prefer someone else over you but I went through them because I was determined, I knew I went there for a certain goal.”

While Akida stayed strong, featuring for the club for one-and-a-half years in which she scored four goals in 22 league matches, one incident broke her heart and almost saw her quit football before she decided to leave the club.

“I was almost giving up but the people I would share things with would be like; ‘This is what happens out there, be strong.’ I thank God it was not that bad but at some point, there is this incident that happened that broke my heart so much,” she added.

“There was this American that had joined the team and my club manager asked me to leave the room for that lady to come in. It broke my heart because as a player, I felt wherever they wanted me to go and stay wasn’t suitable but I took it in and maneuvered.”

Akida left Israel in February 2020 and joined Turkish side Besiktas JK for an undisclosed fee. However, after appearing in two matches of the 2019-20 Turkish Women's First Football League, COVID-19 struck, and the league was discontinued.

She left Tukey the following year for her current club PAOK in Greece where she became an instant hit, scoring 22 goals to win the Golden Boot Award, before banging in 12 last season as the team reclaimed the league title.

Akida’s great form in Greece has seen her attract interest from teams in Germany, Ireland, and Finland but she has reportedly rejected the overtures in favour of an extended stay at PAOK.

She is set to feature in the Champions League next season but PAOK will have to begin from the playoffs given Greece’s low UEFA coefficient.