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I desire to see Imo girls who want to play football realise their dream – Desire Oparanozie, Falcons captain

Super Falcons captain, Desire Oparanozie, is one player that is planning big for young Imo girls out there on the street, who may want to take after her and become professional footballers. With her pet project, Desire Oparanozie Foundation, the Imo State-born striker wants to catch them young.

Oparanozie, who was named Super Falcons captain just before the ongoing France 2019 Women’s World Cup got underway, opened up in this exclusive chat with The Nigerian Xpress Sports on how she feels, leading the Nigerian female national team. The 25-year-old striker, who spoke with SAB OSUJI, also talked about her love life and marriage, amongst other salient issues.


Desire, let’s start with the Super Falcons. This is a FIFA Women’s World Cup year. Super Falcons are making their seventh appearance in the World Cup. How do you feel now that you have been made captain of the team?

I’m overwhelmed. I’m humbled. It comes with a whole lot of indescribable feelings, to tell you the truth. But then, I’m honoured with a responsibility to lead the team. I’m just overwhelmed.


The last time the Super Falcons won a World Cup match was in Canada in 2015 and we celebrated it. This time, under your leadership as captain, what are your thoughts on the 2019 edition in France?

Truth is, over the years, we never had good preparation, going into the World Cup. But this time, the story has changed. We’ve never had it so good in terms of preparation. Yes, there are still a couple of things that could be done better but they (NFF) have done well in preparing us, going into this tournament. And, of course, to whom much is given, they say, much is expected. I know Nigerians are hopeful; they look up to us. Many believe we have dominated Africa for so long and as such, it is high time we made a statement on the world stage. Looking at the team now, we have quality; we have one of the best coaches in the world when it comes to women football. We’ve everything it takes to conquer. And with a combination of our quality, preparation and sound coach, it is high time we got past the previous record or performance we had in the World Cup.

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What’s your personal target at the World Cup vis-a-vis-MVP, Top Scorer, etc?

I’m not particularly given to looking for personal glory. I’m more focused on team glory and what the team can achieve together. If I want personal glory, I would have been into tennis or athletics.

As captain of the team, what would you want to be remembered for?

My greatest dream right now is to be the first captain of Super Falcons to deliver the FIFA Women’s World Cup to Nigerians. If I fail to realise this dream in France, it would be realised in subsequent tournaments, God willing, if I remain the captain of the team.

Away from Falcons, what is Desire Oparanozie Foundation, your pet project all about?

Desire Oparanozie Foundation is a Non Governmental Charity Organisation. It’s all about empowering the youth, especially the girl child. For now, the focus is on the female children in Imo State and the plan is to get it started immediately after the World Cup in France next month, July. Specifically, it starts on July 18 with a career talk to be held at the Imo International Conference Center, IICC, Owerri. On July 19, Team Desire, comprising of my colleagues will play a novelty match against some select legends at Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri. Then there will be a final of a four-team tournament, involving select school teams from the three senatorial zones of Imo – Owerri, Okigwe and Orlu. The fourth team will be my alma mater, Girls Secondary School, Ikenegbu, Owerri. The two best players to be selected will be taken to one of the female clubs in the country for an intensive two-week training camp. This is to enable them have a feel of the game in case that’s the path they would want to choose after their secondary school education. The three-day event is tagged ‘Encouraging the Young Dreamer’. It is my own little way of giving back to the society.


What inspired you to conceive this idea despite still playing active football?

The motive behind this is that I played football in Nigeria and outside and I know what the challenges are. It wasn’t easy at all. There are lots of discouragement and discrimination such that amongst all my friends then, I was the only one, who eventually made something out of the game. You know this gender discrimination in Africa that the girl child shouldn’t play football. This made a whole lot of my friends to quit playing football. That’s the whole idea behind the conception of the Desire Oparanozie Foundation. I want to encourage every girl child in Imo State to follow their dreams. And, of course, don’t forget that Imo State has a good share of players in the national women teams and even across clubs in Nigeria. It is something to be proud of and I want to help sustain the legacy. The Foundation’s effort is not limited to football alone but includes education and in all spheres of life. I want them to understand and believe too, that they can become whatever they want to be in life irrespective of whatever challenges or whatever people may think or say. It’s going to be a three-day event, which starts with a seminar and we are looking at about 500 – 1000 girl kids.


How will you get the girl kids that will participate in the exercise?

We are doing it according to zones. You know we have three zones, Okigwe, Owerri, Orlu. Each will produce a team and then the fourth team will be my alma mater, Ikenegbu Girls Secondary School, Owerri. We are liaising with the State School Sports and I’ve met and held talks with the director of school sports and he was extremely delighted with the fact that I came up with something like this. He was really willing to help to make things happen.


What’s the response of the corporate bodies like towards this project and how long do you think this project would be sustained?

We’ve written proposals to corporate organisations and we are expecting their responses but at the moment, I’m solely handling it. Hopefully before that time, we will get responses from those outfits. We’ve also written to the new government in Imo State to see if they can be a part of it. Talking about the continuity, my plan is to ensure it continues uninterrupted.

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What’s your view on women footballers and marriage and when do we expect to see Desire Oparanozie walk down the altar?

Marriage is a personal thing. I don’t think it has anything to do with your profession or whatever you do. It’s really your personal decision and what you want and at the end of the day, it’s down to your choice. For me, first of all, I’ve to be ready. Now, I’m still very much active and concentrating on my career at the moment. I’m sure when it is time, all of you will know.


But are you in a relationship?

Sure, yes, I’m.

We know you still have a contract with En Avant Guingamp of France. We also know this is summer when players and coach engage in transfer to other clubs. Does Desire Oparanozie plan to move or remain to see off her existing contract?

Right now, I still have an existing contract with En Avant Guingamp.


How long do you hope to remain in the game before you call it quits?

How long I would still be active, that I don’t know. I’m only sure of today. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But for as long as I can still play, I’m still very much around.


Looking back into the concluded 2018/2019 season in France as far as female football is concerned, what do you see?

It was a tough season for me because I was injured at the early stage of the season and it made me to struggle a bit but I thank God I’m good now and looking forward towards the next season.


Like how many games did you play?

I didn’t get to play many games, four games or thereabout.