How mother’s advice helped Asisat Oshoala become a great soccer captain

Written by Staff Writer at CNN Asisat Oshoala: How a grandmother’s belief gave birth to an African soccer superstar By CNN Staff Written by Staff Writer at CNN Asisat Oshoala: How a grandmother’s belief…

How mother's advice helped Asisat Oshoala become a great soccer captain

Written by Staff Writer at CNN Asisat Oshoala: How a grandmother’s belief gave birth to an African soccer superstar By CNN Staff Written by Staff Writer at CNN Asisat Oshoala: How a grandmother’s belief gave birth to an African soccer superstar CNN staff

Asisat Oshoala was just 15 when she became the youngest captain in Nigeria’s history at a European League match between Arsenal Ladies and Wolfsburg Ladies in 2013. Oshoala was captain of the Nigerian senior women’s team in 2013, when she became the first woman to score a hat-trick in the Olympic Women’s Football Tournament. She also captained the team at the 2015 African Women’s Cup of Nations. She was ranked Africa’s best soccer player in 2016 and the top scorer in the 2017 Women’s Super League. Oshoala is also a former UNICEF ambassador for the United Nations on children and the challenges of growing up in Africa.

(CNN) – On Sunday, Asisat Oshoala will be looking to lead Nigeria to the African Women’s Football Championship (AWFC) final in Burkina Faso.

Her team has made it to the competition’s final for the first time since 1994, and if they win it would be a record sixth African Women’s title for Nigeria, as well as making Oshoala only the fourth African player ever to win a European Player of the Year award (after France’s Josephine Mouchakanda, Spain’s Pilar Fernandez and Ghana’s Asisat Oshoala).

Winning at AWFC is all the more impressive considering Nigeria are a nation of more than 170 million.

It’s an amazing achievement, but Oshoala is still fairly inexperienced as a captain, having only been appointed to the job in 2016. During a recent interview with CNN, Oshoala explained how she learned how to lead her team, thanks to her mother.

“I learned my leadership qualities from my mother,” she says. “She’s a great woman, and I think that a lot of role models nowadays don’t take the time to train their kids to the level that’s needed to be a good leader.”

Her mother’s advice meant a lot to Oshoala because she once worked as a teacher.

“My mother worked as a teacher in primary school, and I think she saw a lot of things that I don’t want to see. So she encouraged me to become a good person so that I could give back something that I see as missing from our society. Even though I was young, it motivated me to do what I do now, and now it pays off.”

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The influence of her mother wasn’t the only one Oshoala received as a teenager. Her grandmother, for example, helped shape her sense of style.

“We are from a very humble background, and the way we’ve been brought up has been very simple. You’d be surprised by some of the stuff we used to do as kids,” she says. “We used to wear clothes that are designed for boys, so I’ve had quite a few nicknames throughout my life from people who don’t like girls wearing these things. So my grandmother really influenced my style a lot.”

Striking a pose

As well as what her grandparents and mother have taught her, Oshoala also credits her father for helping steer her toward her sporting passion.

“He was always encouraging me to play football, and it’s actually what got me into the soccer world,” she says. “Since the age of five I started training every single day after school. And for someone who’s not very athletic, to train every day and really get into soccer was a great experience.”

That passion paid off: Oshoala turned professional with Nigerian football club, Dolphins FC in 2012, but it wasn’t until 2014 that she won her first professional award.

It was the 2015 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, and Oshoala helped Nigeria lift the trophy for the first time since 1999. In her emotional acceptance speech, she told the crowd: “Wow! Even if we come and win this trophy, I’ll never forget that day.”

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Despite winning that award, Oshoala hasn’t stopped there. Since then, she has come a long way, becoming a woman who is proud to represent her nation.

“I really don’t think that having a title gives you such a sense of achievement as knowing that you played your part, in being part of a team that united Nigerians all across the country. I think a title for any athlete is never enough.”

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