In what is a brand new segment here on LadiesMarch, our NWFL Correspondent Ubong Bassey, caught up with Chinenye Okafor, an exceptionally talented footballer playing for newly promoted Nigerian Women Premier League (NWPL) team, Sa’adatu Amazons of Minna. She shared her exploits as a professional player in the Nigerian Women Football League (NWFL).
LM: Can we get to know you?
Chinenye Okafor: My name is Chinenye Okafor, a midfielder for Sa’adatu Amazons Football Club of Minna. I hail from Abia State in the South Eastern region of Nigeria.
LM: How did you start your footballing career?
Chinenye Okafor: I started playing for Saprado Football Club, a Lagos based women football club in the Nigerian Women Amateur 2 division league. In 2002, my team participated in a women football tournament at Minna. I won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament.
I also played for Flying base football club and many more amateur teams in Lagos State before I signed as a professional player for Sa’adatu Amazons in 2016.
LM: Have you had a national team call up to play for Nigeria?
Chinenye Okafor: Yes, I was called up for the Nigerian under 17 national women team in 2008. The Flamingoes team qualified and were preparing ahead for the FIFA Under 17 International World Cop at Trinidad and Tobago. I was delighted for my invitation to the Flamingoes team because it was a great opportunity to serve my fatherland, Nigeria. Unfortunately, I did not make the team squad final cut and was dropped.
LM: What was your experience when you were invited to the Nigerian under 17 national women team?
Chinenye Okafor: (chuckles) It was an awesome experience because it improved my game in terms of learning about discipline on and off the pitch. It also exposed me to state of the art training facilities, I interacted with other players and I was exposed to the modern rules of football.
LM: There were reports that you once played for Togo in 2016, how true is that?
Chinenye Okafor: (laughs aloud) I am a full flesh Nigerian. On that issue, I was invited by the Togolese National team who were featuring in a tournament, I confided in my head coach of the club which I played for on the invite. He encouraged me to go play for Togo.
I had problems communicating with my Togolese team mates because they speak French but later on I started learning the language and I could start playing well.
LM: Have you won any major trophies or cups as a professional footballer?
Chinenye Okafor: Yes, I have won a trophy. It was in 2016 when my club were eventual winner of the Aisha Buhari Super 5 women tournament organized by the Kaduna State Football Association. No one ever expected us to win the cup but by the teams’ determination and the special grace of God, we did.
LM: You had your first taste of the Nigerian Women Premier League (NWPL) 2016/17 season with Sa’adatu Amazons on match day week 1 against six times former champions, Pelican Stars of Calabar, how did you feel?
Chinenye Okafor: WOW!! I thank God for that game though we lost by 1-nil, we played very well. Kudos to my team mates and Coach Ladan for believing in us because it was my first experience playing in Calabar.
LM: On a final note, what is your advice to upcoming female footballers who look up to you as their role model and mentor?
Chinenye Okafor: I will advise them to be focused and look up to God for guidance.