Football Is My Dream But Things Keep Getting In The Way

September 14, 2021

As told to Mariam: 

In this article, Stella talks about wanting to be a footballer as a child but not having the resources or the support needed to do so. 

I started playing football when I was eight years old. At first, I played with the boys in my village. Then I played at school competitions and with the local church team. At some point, I was even the captain of my school football team  When I scored goals, I won gifts. Sometimes, people gave me money for playing so well. The money wasn’t a lot, but it meant something to me. My football coach at school made me promise that I would never stop playing football. 

I lived with my aunty, and she hated that I played football. When I was 11, my school had a competition, which I told her about. t But on the day of the competition, she refused to let me go. I cried so much but she stood her ground. Before she went out, she left me with a list of chores to complete. After washing the plates, I decided to go to the competition. I ended up scoring the winning goal that day. It was amazing but by the time I got back home, it was already 10 p.m. I was too afraid to go into the house because I knew she would beat the hell out of me, so I slept outside the house. The next morning, she still beat me. I could never forget that day.

female footballer holding net

I was the only one on my team that didn’t have football boots. I couldn’t afford them on my own, and I knew my aunt would never buy me a pair of football boots. My mum didn’t even have money to send me to school so I knew there was no use asking her. I used to dream of going to Owerri to buy football boots. A few weeks after I graduated in 2019, my mum sent me to Owerri to be a live-in nanny for one woman so I could make money for the family. 

In that house, the woman made me hawk pure water every day. I would stand on the street waiting for people to buy from me. Sometimes, I would get lost on my way home because the roads confused me. Whenever I got home, she would beat me. There was always a reason to beat me. I didn’t get to play football, so I was sad all the time. 

During Christmas in 2019, I went to the village to see my family. One day, I saw my football coach and he asked if I still played football. I told him no because there was no money or no one to support me. He didn’t say anything else. He just walked away. I cried when I got home that day. I wished I had someone to support me. 

I complained to my mum that the woman in Owerri was maltreating me, and she agreed to let me come back home. When I returned home, I helped her at her shop and helped her run errands. I was still sad when I came back because I wasn’t able to play football. I would find myself pausing to cry. 

I went in search of my old team. Some of us had gotten admission into the university. They would call me whenever they had a match to play. One day, one of my teammates told me about a football club that was looking for female football players. She gave me the address of where the screening was to be held. During the week, I took a bus to the place. 

They asked us to play football as part of the screening process. I scored a goal from a corner kick and they were impressed. They asked me to come as often as I could. I went there almost every day. One day, I came even though I was sick. We started playing and I was doing well. I noticed that when I passed my ball to my teammates, they wouldn’t pass it back to me, even though I was in a good position to score a goal. The rest of the team spoke Yoruba and I didn’t, so it was easy for them to talk about me. That made me feel bad and I cried on my way home. I decided to stop going to the stadium. 

In January, there was a competition and I joined the game. My team ended up winning. Some of my teammates were people I met at the football agency. Later that week, representatives from the agency reached out to me. They wanted me to join their team. They offered me a one-year contract where they would pay me  ₦30k every month. That means I would stop playing matches for other brands or even for leisure. I signed and joined their team in March, 

For a while, I felt good with myself. At the end of April, they paid me ₦5000. When I asked, they said some money was deducted for health insurance and tax. By May, I realized that there was a long list of fines. It included things like being late to training, unwarranted yellow or red cards or fighting within the agency’s premises. At the end of the day, you are left with nothing. 

In June, they told us they had issues with their bank account so they didn’t pay us that month. They didn’t pay in July either.  I have gotten used to it. I am just happy I get to play football. My dream is to play football professionally and represent Nigeria internationally. I have three siblings in the village and they all look up to me. I pray I don’t disappoint them. 

Subscribe here.

Mariam Sule

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

March 30, 2021

Some men are going to read the title of the article and lose their shit, we are sorry, or maybe not. We’ve read in a couple of articles that sex toys are supposed to support men and not compete with them but this is not one of those articles. Here are a few reasons why […]

August 25, 2021

The subject of today’s What She Said is a 61-year-old woman who moved to Lagos at 15 to become a caterer. She talks about being her father’s favourite out of his 18 children, surrounding herself with her family, choosing to not get married or have children, retiring at fifty and looking forward to the rest […]

relationship with money
April 21, 2021

Money is such an important part of our lives. It’s amazing how we manage to talk about it without really talking about it. In this article, I asked seven Nigerian women to talk about their relationship with money. Here’s what they had to say:  Evi, 21 I like to think my relationship with money is […]


Now on Zikoko

September 25, 2021

oraimo FreePods 3 Feature LeakFor a while now, oraimo has been cooking something awesome for her consumers, and it’s finally here. I guess it’s safe to say oraimo is like a fine wine that keeps getting better with time. When it comes to delivering a product that is not only affordable but also comes with […]

Recommended Quizzes

December 11, 2019

In the past month, we’ve made quizzes that guessed the last time you had sex, how many people you’ve slept with, and just how good you are in bed. For our latest attempt, we will use your taste in Nigerian music from the 2010s to ascertain what you’re like in bed. Take to find out:

April 14, 2020

Every friend group consists of very different and specific characters — from the parent to the fun one — and it can be a little tough figuring out where you fall. So, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know exactly what kind of friend you are. Take to find out:

October 10, 2019

2019 is certainly Burna Boy’s year, but, if we are being honest, so was 2018. Since his transcendent mixtape, Outside, the afro-fusion star has refused to get his foot of our necks — dropping a string of fantastic singles and then capping it all off with his career-best album, African Giant.  So, in a bid […]

October 30, 2019

Kemi Adetiba’s King of Boys movie got a lot of things right, especially casting, so yes, it was a monster hit. Now, we know you may not have put much thought to this, but the personalities of some of the characters closely match yours, and we would like to help you find the perfect match. […]

November 11, 2019

Today, we are going to be using your taste in music to determine how good you actually are in bed. All you need to do is create the ultimate Nigerian hit — from the lead artist to the producer — and we’ll tell you if all your partners leave satisfied, or if you are just […]

More from Her

black girl leaning on the wall with curly hair
September 21, 2021

“Everyone from his fraternity ran away except him, and that was how he went down. He died on school grounds. Omo, I wasn’t myself for days. That was when I realized everything everyone said was true.”

8 Nigerian Women Talk About Their Experience With Cultists

Read here:

black woman with afro smiling
September 20, 2021

Hair lice are tiny, wingless insects that live in the hair of humans. They feed on tiny amounts of blood they get from the scalp. They spread easily from comb to comb. It is especially rampant among kids.  It’s not easy to get rid of hair lice but here are a few tips that have […]


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.