AJIBADE: One of the Reasons We Believe…


The Nigeria U20 Women team, the Faconets, left it too late as they crashed out of the 2016 U20 FIFA Women World Cup on Sunday despite securing successive victories over Canada and Spain. The team had names from the squad that played in the Finals of the same tournament in 2014, but one star stood out…

We have always believed that it is possible to unearth one naturally talented woman footballer aged between 12 and 15 from every other state, every two years. Rasheedat Ajibade is proof. The FC Robo midfielder is one of the youngest of the 2016 crop of U20’s, and she’s the one with the most promise.

Ajibade is a natural born footballer. She does things with the football that other players can only dream about. Her skills are not learnt, they are instinctive. There are few players in the recent history of Nigeria football that fall in that category: Nwankwo Kanu, John Obi Mikel (pre-Mourinho) and Kelechi Iheanacho are the men;Perpertua Nkwocha, Ifeanyi Chiejine and Asisat Oshoala are the other women footballers in that category.

Not only can she play, her leadership skills are good, and that can only be great for the future. She was the skipper of the team to the U17 FIFA Women World Cup in Jordan, and was exemplary all through both on and off the pitch. That she was captain did not weigh her down on the pitch, as she was about the only success story from that disastrous campaign.

Rasheedat has earned at least one Man of the Match award at every tournament she has attended: she was named best player at the 2014 U17 tournament in the game versus China, was best player on the pitch versus England in Jordan and was named the most outstanding in the 3-1 win versus Canada at the Papua New Guinea U20 tournament.

The {accidental} emergence of this precocious young woman is proof that if we set up a decent program, we can churn out talented women footballers that will not only breathe new life into the Women League, but enable a vibrant supply line into the Super Falcons…and change a few more lives along the way!

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