BOYS TOUGHENED ME IN FOOTBALL – Onome Ebi

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By Paul Erewuba

Super Falcons defender, Onome Ebi is a player with immense knowledge of technicalities of modern football.

She horned her football skills at Bayelsa Queens FC where she started her football career before moving to  European clubs that included Turkish champions Lisesipor.

The light complexioned Delta State – born footballer is very experienced given the fact that she has been part of Super Falcons squad to four World Cups.

The 2008 Olympics and five African Women Championships (AWC) heroine spoke to Saturday Sunsports on a variety of issues.

Q How did you start playing football?

I started when I was a little girl. Before I began Secondary School, I had already started playing with boys on the field.  So when I entered Secondary School, it was easy for me to break into my School team where I started my football career.

And after school, I joined a club.

Q Which of the teams did you start with?

I started with Omidiran Babes of Oshogbo in Osun state. And I played for four years. When I left Omidiran Babes, I went to Bayelsa Queens where I also played for four years. But after that, I decided to ply my football trade abroad and Turkey was my first port of call. I latter moved to Sweden, moved back to Turkey and then to Belarus. I played there for three years. But for now, I have signed out my contract with them.

Q How was your growing up like?

I would say my growing up was a mixed grill. Mixed grill in the sense that it was tough and at the same time sweet.  I was surrounded with guys.  I did not have female friends surrounding me like the guys.  I played with guys and they taught me good football. It was fun. But the only challenge I had were my parents.

At first, they detested my going into football, and they would not hear of it. They wanted me to go to the University. They were scared football would prevent me from going to school.

But when they saw that my football future is looking bright and I am so passionate of playing football, they allowed me be.

Q: So how did you burst into the Super Falcons?

I got the chance of playing in the Super Falcons when I was with Omidiran Babes. It was in 2003 and Sam Okpodu was then the coach. He saw my game and invited me to camp.

I was baby of the house then because I was so little. The coach must have seen something in me that made him believe so much in me.  Despite my inexperience, I was accommodated.

The game I will never forget was the match against the United States at the World Cup in 2003. I committed some blunders that resulted into a goal. I cried all through the championship. It was hard for me, but people including my team mates encouraged me and told me to learn from the experience.

Since 2003, I have been with the Falcons and I have played in four World Cups, five Nations Cup and one Olympic Games.

Q: Talking about the Nations Cup, you were a member of the Super Falcons Nations Cup winning squad in Cameroon. How did it go?

I would say it was not easy. The professionals came to join the home based in Nigeria. Before we could blend, it was something the coaches had to really work on. And they did their best which we took to Cameroon. In Cameroon, it was good for us because the fans were supporting us because we played good football. Although the group stage matches were tough, we thrived to qualify.

But the semi and final is something I will never forget in a hurry.

Q: You sustained injury but went ahead to play with it in the final, what was it like?

I did not know that I had a fracture before we went into that game.  When I fell down some minutes to the end of the game and felt some sharp pains on my wrist, I just stood up. The physiotherapist examined my hand but I said they should allow me to go into the field and play. I went in holding my hand. And after the game I fell
down and started crying. The pain was too much and I did not know that I had fractured my hand. It was when we came back to Abuja and the Doctor confirmed that my bone was broken. I did not want Nigeria to lose as it was just three minutes to end the game.

Q: After the injury, what have you been doing?

Since I joined Temple Management Company after we won the Nations Cup in Cameroon where I sustained serious injury,  my life hasn’t been the same again.

I cannot compare the passion I had when I started playing football to what I’m having now at Temple.

I now feel very relaxed that I have a family. I have a team that is very supportive in terms of everything. Since my injury, I have not gone back to my team and Temple has added to my career.

They have been making my stay in Lagos a very memorable one; we have activities here and there. I don’t feel I have injury any more.

But by end of May I would have recovered fully to resume playing.

Q: What’s your advice to up and coming athletes?

They should never give up on their goals. No matter the situation they find themselves in and the temptations; they should not be discouraged.

Definitely they will come across temptations and people who will say negative things about them; they should not give up on their dream. I fought such inhibitions to attain greatness today. And they should put God first in life. They should push themselves to reach their zenith, which was how I pushed my way to play for the Falcons.

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