Christy Ohaeriaku, a goalkeeper with the Nigerian senior national women’s team, Super Falcons, in this interview with OJIEVA EHIOSUN, says her dream is to see her current club, Edo Queens, qualify for the newly-established CAF Women Champions League. Excerpts:
Records have shown that many women footballers in Nigeria don’t get married or rather are scared of getting a life partner, why?
From my own understanding, I don’t think any woman is scared of getting married. Marriage is something that is ordained from Heaven, and it is a general thing. From my experience and from what I have seen and heard, the problem is mostly from our men. As a female footballer, I have travelled to many countries in the course of this my profession and I have seen big time foreign female players getting married and living happily with their families. But in Nigeria, a majority of our men don’t like marrying female footballers or any sports woman that is muscular in nature because they see them as if they are men; they feel getting married to them is like getting married to fellow men. They see their physique as a factor, forgetting that that is what God has destined them to do. Every human being on earth has his or her own calling. So, if I’m into sports as a woman and that is what is putting food on my table, I will not stop because one man wants to ask for my hand in marriage. Again, a woman cannot force herself on any man because she wants to get married. If God says that woman will marry and bear a child there is nothing on earth that will stop it. I believe that there is time for everything.
Rumours abound that men only date women footballers for their money and later dump them; have you experienced such before?
Yes, I have heard most of my seniors in this profession share their bitter experiences on how they had been victims of such. Men come to us because they believe that we are celebrities, and that we have money. They will come to you; you fall in love with them believing that they are in love with you not knowing that some of them are just after your money. You find out that after spending for such a man, and having the best of that female player, at the end they dump them. Again, every woman wants to get married, it’s not restricted to only female athletes, it affects every woman. So it is a general phenomenon. No woman is afraid of getting married, any woman that has the opportunity to get married is always happy to do so, playing football cannot deny a woman the opportunity of getting married.
Some men tend to believe that muscular female footballers or athletes can’t make good homes, do you agree with them?
No, I disagree with them on that assumption. This is where they get it wrong; being a footballer does not stop any woman from her responsibility as a wife, every good woman knows how to handle her personal work, and every good woman knows how to go about her responsibility as a woman. Nigerian men need to start getting married to female footballers or women athletes. We are very responsible people; in fact, female footballers are the best ladies to get married to. They have everything you need as a man; they can make you very happy, give you care and love. They should not allow their muscular shape to be a hindrance. If they are not convinced, they should ask questions from those men that have married women players. So, our men should not be scared getting married to female players just because they look muscular, it is the nature of our job, once we stop playing and start giving birth to children, we will get back our natural body.
Some men have complained that women footballers don’t like men coming close to them; in fact they are more involved with their fellow women. What is your take on this?
One reason it is like that is that men are sometimes a distraction. Again, it all depends on the approach and the person involved. You don’t except me to have a crucial national assignment where all my attention and thinking will be on how to do well in the game, how to stop opponents from finding the back of my post, and how to make my managers proud, and one man will be telling you come and visit me, I’m missing you, I want to see your lovely face and all that, it is like a distraction to me. So, when you reject such invitation, they will see you as a bad girl, not knowing that you need time to think about the task ahead of you. I feel most women footballer and athletes just want to keep away from anything that will be inimical to the progress of their job at that particular time.
Are you married now as a player?
Of course, I’m happily married to a man God has ordained for me. He understands the kind of job I’m doing; he gives me all the support needed for me to excel, he also prays for me. When I’m done with my professional playing career, God will begin to bless us with children.
What will be your advice to up-andcoming women footballers as regards marriage?
My advice to them is this, since you are into football, it does not make you less of a woman, it does not make you not to be a good woman or a good wife, all you need to do is focus on your career, but if you see any responsible man coming for you, you must make sure that the man likes you and your career, such a man or boy should like you for who you are, whether you are muscular, short, tall, fat or slim. The first question you must ask yourself is: does this man like me naturally, does he like the kind of job I do, is he coming for my money. So when the man loves what you do, and he gives you support and you love the person too, you can go ahead. Again, as an athlete, you don’t need to chase men away, you play along with them, study them like you study books, study the parental background also, ensure that he is not the one that will come and ruin your life or career. Any guy who comes and before two weeks he starts to tell you stories like, my mother is sick, my father is sick, I need money just know that such a man is not serious; he is out to milk and get the best out of you; such a man will dump likely you. My female colleagues should run away from such men
As Edo Queens first choice goal keeper, what are your dreams for the club?
I love Edo Queens Football Club; I want Edo Queens to do very well, I will be very happy if Edo Queens will come out in flying colours at the end of this season. My greatest dream for Edo Queens is for us to qualify for Champions League, play top flight football on the continent, win the NWFL title and make the state government very proud especially our father the Deputy Governor of Edo State Comrade Philip Shaibu. He has done so much for us as a club, and we need to pay him back by winning laurels for the state.
Any regrets playing for Edo Queens so far?
No regrets at all. Edo Queens is a good club; I’m really enjoying my stay in Benin. I love Edo Queens, they care very well for players, they give young players an opportunity to grow; the management has done a lot for us. It is my prayers that we make it at the end. Edo Queens is one of the biggest female team in the Nigeria Women Football League which every Nigeria professional female football player wants to play for. It is a place to be. I’m very elated playing for Edo Queens.