Leading Woman

5 influential sports women in Nigeria

by Anthony Nlebem & Jonathan Aderoju

August 3, 2018 | 1:15 am
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Asisat Oshoala

It is debatable that a greater percentage of Nigeria’s sporting success is attributed to women. In terms of impact and total numbers, Nigerian women stack up massively well against their male counterparts. In spite of this, there has been an almost regular neglect of women in sports in Nigeria. The is quite an obvious pattern, truly so because the most populous black nation in the world, though obsessed with football, needs to do more in this regard. Nigeria’s Super Falcons are the most successful national football team on the continent of Africa. Women all over the world are adding value to the sports world and the Nigeria female sports counterparts are not left out.
Here, we list the top five most influential sports women in Nigeria



Asisat Oshoala

The Super Falcons star and the reigning 2017 African Women’s Footballer of the Year who plays for Dalian Quanjian FC in the Chinese Women’s Super League was named the best player and the highest goal scorer at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
She was also named best player and second top goal scorer with the Super Falcons team that won the 2014 African Women’s Championship.
After a year at Liverpool, blighted with injury, and a switch to Arsenal, her two-year sojourn in Europe came to an end when she chose to join Dalian Quanjian in the Chinese Women’s Super League in February 2017.
“A lot people told me that I left England for China and said to me your career is over, but I said to them, it’s all about hard work; when you go somewhere you have to prove yourself and the world will see you, says Oshoala.
“Today, I am happy that I won the CAF Women’s Player award. 2017 has truly been an emotional journey for me. This is truly one of the best moments in my career. I want to encourage young girls out there not to let people discourage them but to follow your their heart,” her comments after winning the prestigious CAF women’s award.
The Super Falcons star just completed a massive mansion for her parents in Lagos.
Oshoala took to her social media account to share photos of a massive two-story mansion in Lagos revealing that she had completed the building as a gift to her parents.
“Small girl Big God..Alhamdulilah, parent first,” the 23-year-old wrote alongside the photos.
She also went on her Instagram stories to advise other people to take good care of their parents.
“Don’t be a selfish child; let the happiness of your parents be your priority, take very good care of your family before impressing the street. My little token, invest wisely because these things don’t last forever, don’t go around buying things that are rarely necessary,” she further wrote. There are reports that the lanky striker is the richest female footballer in Africa.
“Well, of course I can’t really say that I am the top richest Africa female footballer, but if they said so, that’s fine by me, maybe I am one of the top richest female footballers in Africa.”




Aisha Falode

Aisha  is a popular sports journalist in Nigeria and made her living by trading in underdeveloped areas. She has a first degree in physical education.

With the erection of the African Independent Television (AIT) owned by Chief Raymond Dokpesi, she became involved with the station.

This later led her to acquire a graduate degree in Mass Communications.  She also worked briefly with NITEL Nigerian Telecommunication Limited and again with the Graduate Telephone Operators Scheme of the then NITEL.

Her success story as a sports journalist twigs from her involvement in both sports and radio broadcasting.

In January 2017, she was inaugurated by Nigeria Football Federation as the head of Nigeria Women Football League, the body that organizes Aiteo Cup and Nigeria Women Premier League.

Since then, she has showed her support and devotedness to the Nigeria sports arena.



Olufunke Oshonaike

Olufunke Oshonaike is a Nigerian table tennis player. She competed for Nigeria at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Oshonaike started her playing career on a street called Akeju Street in Shomolu, Lagos, in the early 1980s while very young.

She was a spectacle each time she played because she was very small and used to amaze people with her skill at that early age.

She attended Community Primary School now known as Ola-Olu Primary School, Agunbiade, Shomolu, Lagos.

While in primary 4, she won a competition for the school and was honoured by the Headmaster of the school, Mr G.O. Taiwo, on the assembly ground in front of her school mates.

After her primary education, she proceeded to Igbobi Girls High School, Igbobi-Yaba, she left the school when she was in SSS 1 to proceed with her education and professional career.

At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, she competed in the womenís single division. In the preliminary round, she defeated Mariana Sahakian of Lebanon. In round 1, she was defeated by Adriana Diaz of Puerto Rico.

She was the flagbearer for Nigeria during the Parade of Nations. At 40, the former African champion is still one of Nigeriaís best most consistent athletes of all time. She began representing Nigeria at 14, before she moved to Italy in 1994, to play professionally. Oshonaike has appeared at five Olympic Games, beginning from Atlanta í96.

Now resident in Germany, Oshonaikeís rise from the streets of Somolu, Lagos, to global reckoning is truly meteoric. The third child in a family of 10, she had to battle with poverty from a very young age, but sports came to her rescue, and today, she is one of Africaís most decorated female table tennis players.

A trained cosmetologist, Oshonaike has a Diploma in Physical and Health Education from the University of Lagos.


Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor

Okagbare is Nigeriaís sprint queen, with specialty in long jumping and short sprints. The 29-year-old set the new record with a time of 22.04 seconds to erase the record of compatriot Mary Onyali who had held the record with 22.07 seconds set at the Wetklasse Grand Prix in Zurich, Switzerland, 22 years ago.

Okagbareís former personal best in the 200 metres event was at the 2014 Eugene Diamond League where she ran 22.23secs.

Okagbare is an Olympic and World Championships medallist in the long jump, and a world medallist in the 200 metres.

She also holds the Womenís 100 metres Commonwealth Games record for the fastest time at 10.85 seconds.

Her 100 metres best of 10.79 made her the African record holder for the event until Murielle AhourÈ eclipsed it in 2016. She is the current African record holder in the 200 metres with her run of 22.04 seconds in 2018.

Also, the African 100 metres and long jump champion in 2010. She has also won medals at the All-Africa Games, IAAF Continental Cup and World Relays.

At age 19, she won a bronze medal in the womenís long jump event at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. She was selected to compete at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics but did not start either the 100 m or long jump.

Okagbare scored a 100 m in long jump double at the NCAA Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championship for University of Texas at El Paso, completing an undefeated collegiate streak for the UTEP Miners that year. She won the Nigerian 100 m title in 2010, running a time of 11.04 seconds, and stated that she was opting out of the long jump in order to save herself for the upcoming African championships.




Born on the 4th January 1984, she is a Paralympian athlete who competes in F40 classification throwing events. She competed at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro winning gold in the F40 shot put. Onye is also an actress, performing under the name Laury White.

In the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships, Onye entered the only event held for F40 athletes, the shot put.

She competed at the World Championships as one of the favourites, having set a world record distance of 7.59 metres in Tunisia in March early in the year.

In Doha, she improved on her own record by throwing a distance of 7.72 on her first attempt. Her nearest rival, Lara Baars of the Netherlands, threw a best of 6.80, in itself a European record, but almost a metre short.

In the 2016 Summer Paralympics, Onye became the first T40 athlete to throw over eight metres.

On her return to Nigeria from the 2016 Rio Olympics she was among the athletes rewarded by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Anthony Nlebem & Jonathan Aderoju

by Anthony Nlebem & Jonathan Aderoju

August 3, 2018 | 1:15 am
  |     |     |   Start Conversation

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