The year 2016 has come and gone but some events now in the history books cannot be wished away.
One of such was the performance of the Nigeria women’s U-17 team, the Flamingos. The team posted Nigeria’s worst ever showing at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, as they were beaten blue and black at the Jordan 2016 fiesta.
The team finished bottom after three group games; failing to score any goal in over 270 minutes of football action.
In an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES’ Tunde Eludini, the captain of the team, Rasheedat Ajibade, spoke about her experience. The petite forward, whose individual performance in Jordan saw her being fast-tracked few weeks later to play at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup for the Falconets, spoke on a range of issues including her career and women football.
PT: How would rate your performance in 2016?
RASHEEDAT: I must say special thanks to God when it comes to 2016; it was a remarkable year for me, even though it may seem that it was a woeful turn out for me I still give thanks to God because I am sure that I am not a failure. I will just keep working hard until I get it right. It was a year I put in my very best but the results were not coming as I would have loved to.
Regardless of anything, I still love training and I love pushing myself. I’m a competitive person. If someone says ‘Do 15 reps’, I do 100! I must not relent because one must to try to develop yourself every day and never stop. That’s how it has to be if your goal is to become a professional.
PT: How do you now plan to get it right?
RASHEEDAT: The thing is that going for the U-17 World Cup; captaining them and not qualifying … our target was to go there and at least make it to the final; same for the U-20 World Cup. But as God will have it, we did not get there. So my target will be to aim high again in 2017 and by God’s grace get there; I mean a place nobody has ever gotten.
PT: What went wrong in 2016?
RASHEEDAT: There was a lot of challenges but we cannot keep dwelling on that, one has to be forward looking and hope for better things ahead.
PT: What do you aim to achieve in 2017?
RASHEEDAT: I think that is beyond me, my achievement is in the hands of God, I cannot say this is what I will achieve but I leave everything to God. You know they say man proposes while God disposes, I will definitely keep working hard but what I will achieve is in the hands of God.
PT: How would you advise young girls hoping to take up football as a career; do you encourage them to come in or find themselves better things to do?
RASHEEDAT: What I will like to tell them is that they should not get distracted nor discouraged about what is going on now to women in football. I am very sure that some people will be saying why should I go and suffer myself as a girl to play football when I would not be treated well . Even though you play at club level and national team level there is nothing to show for it. My advice is that they should not look at the present things, it was never like this at a time so, they should have the belief that things will change and change for the better very soon. If God has given them this talent, it is for a purpose, so they should keep doing what they are doing and hope for the best soonest.
They should pray for female football to be revived because it is crumbling already, in every aspect of life you are bound to face difficulty so they should not just relent but keep working hard.
PT: What do you do aside football?
RASHEEDAT: Aside football another game I have interest in is roller skating. Also, when I am not playing football, I am reading because I enjoying studying.
To relax, I usually listen to music; especially gospel music
PT: Who are the role models you look up to?
RASHEEDAT: Here in Nigeria, the rave of the moment Asisat Oshoala is definitely one. Then we have the likes of Uchechi Sunday , Desire Oparanozie and also the present Assistant Coach to the Super Falcons, Perpetua Nkwocha.
On the international front, I look up to the likes of Nadine Kessller Loiusa and Marta.
PT: Will you say you are ready for a big move like Oshoala to Arsenal or elsewhere?
RASHEEDAT: That is in the hands of God. Like I said before, man proposes and God disposes. Everybody wishes for good things like that but only God knows the best.
PT: Thank you for your time.
RASHEEDAT: The pleasure was mine.