Four-time African Player woman of the year, Perpetua Nkwocha, needs no introduction to football fans in Nigeria, Africa and in Sweden, where she plays for Clemensnas FC, but to some boys from Afghanistan receiving training from her, she is an unknown.
“It is really a way of giving these immigrants and refugees something to do during the day,” said Jens Karlsson, the chairman of Clemensnas told the BBC.
“If they love soccer they can come here and practise with Perpetua [Nkwocha], who is a great soccer player – so that’s the purpose of the whole thing, to help in the immigration of these guys.”
Perpetua, a player-coach at Clemensnas, said coaching is the same anywhere – whether to immigrants or to boys at her club in Nigeria.
“I feel so great being with these lovely children here,” she told the BBC.
“I feel like I’m home, you know – just like when I train my boys back home in Nigeria – I feel the same way here.”
And she has plenty of time [the football season resumes in May] to connect and teach the boys, who have travelled from far just like she has journeyed in her football career.
“I feel that it’s similar – which is why I have to try to make them happy, because I know where they came from,” she said.
“I feel so glad that I connected with them and we [Clemensnas] started this project together.
“We try to make them feel welcome, try to make them feel happy, try to make them get friends and associate with other Swedish [people].”
One of the boys, Habibullah said, “She’s a good coach – you see there’s many people playing football here and they’re really enjoying it. We’re all happy”.
Job accomplished, Nkwocha, who is now retired from the Falcons, is definitely giving back to her community and this experience will definitely stand her in good stead to help the national team sometime in the future.
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