In our exciting footballer series, LadiesMarch NWFL Correspondent Ubong Bassey caught up with Glory Ogbonna, a footballer playing for Nigerian Women Premier League (NWPL) team, Ibom Angels of Uyo. She shared her exploits as a professional player and the U20 Women’s national team bonus saga.
LM: Let’s get to know you shall we?
Ogbonna: (Yes) My name is Glory Ogbonna. I am a defender playing for Ibom Angels Football Club of Uyo in Akwa Ibom State. I hail from Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area of Abia State, Nigeria. I was born on the 25th of December 1998.
LM: How did you start your footballing career?
Ogbonna: I started playing immediately after I completed my secondary school education where I joined Buffalo Queens in 2008, an amateur team based in Abia State. From there, I participated in the festival games in Abia State with Buffalo Queens before I moved to another amateur team called Standard Babes of Aba (now called Abia Angels) in 2010. I turned a professional player when I signed for Ibom Angels of Uyo in 2013 from Standard Babes of Aba
LM: In 2010, you won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) with Standard Babes in the FA Cup game against Sunshine Queens of Akure. How did you feel?
Ogbonna: I was so excited because it was a dream come true to know that my impact on the field of play was appreciated by fans and my team mates. It was my first ever personal award as a footballer.
LM: You were signed by Ibom Angels as in 2013. It was your first professional contract. Your confidence must have been through the roof.
Ogbonna: Yes! It was an awesome experience playing in the same team with Super Falcons ex international goalkeeper like Precious Dede. I looked up to her for mentoring because I always had the dream to play alongside veteran football players. She groomed and took me in as her younger sister both on and off the pitch.
LM: It’s difficult being a footballer in these parts, let alone a female one. What was your motivation?
Ogbonna(chuckles): It is a family thing; football runs in the family blood. My father was a professional footballer and he was in full support when I first confided in him that I wanted to become a footballer. He told me that there is always time for everything but I must finish my education first before I venture into football.
LM: Have you won any trophies, cups or awards as a footballer?
Ogbonna: Yes. I have won the Akwa Ibom State FA cup titles with Ibom Angels for three consecutive years; 2014-2016. In those years, I set my personal target to win all the cups available in the women’s premier league with Ibom Angels but I give God all the glory for winning the FA cup titles.
LM: We recall you first call up for national duty was to play for the U-17 Flamingoes team in 2014. Share your emotions on that.
Ogbonna: WOW!! That was my best moments in my footballing career. I made up my mind to do my very best whenever called upon to play for the national team because I wanted to taste what it feels like to play in the FIFA U-20 World Cup that was to be hosted by Papua New Guinea in 2016.
LM: Then, to that U-20 FIFA World Cup at Papua New Guinea. The Falconets but were knocked out at the group stage. What went wrong?
Ogbonna: When we arrived at Papua New Guinea, we were beaming with confidence that we were the INVINCIBLES. Our first match against Japan took a different twist as we lost by 6-nil and this affected our performances negatively for the remaining group games. After all the group matches we played, Nigeria had the same six points with Japan and Spain but we were eliminated because they had superior goal difference.
LM: You were issued a red card and sent off in the group game against Spain. Why did you lose your head in such an important game?
Ogbonna(sighs): We won the game 2-1 against Spain but I was sent off towards the end of 90 minutes because of the brute force I tackled the Spanish player for the ball. Earlier on in the game, I was issued a yellow card so my tackle on the Spanish player when I was sent off was(sadly) my second bookable yellow card offence.
LM: Reports making the rounds at the time was that the team wasn’t properly catered for and were owed match bonuses. You want to shed more light on that?
Ogbonna: It is true. Our head coach advised us to manage ourselves, that the economic recession Nigeria was experiencing at the time was negatively affecting the funding of the team as compared to previous international world cup outings where there were adequate funds available. This problem affected the performance of the players on the pitch because when you are about to play any match and you are reminded that you will not be paid your match bonus, you will be discouraged.
LM: It was nice having you on LadiesMarch, Thank you for your time.
Ogbonna: You are welcome