Asisat Oshoala has a confession to make.
The Barcelona striker, who was born in the Nigerian city of Ikorodu, leans into the microphone and says: “Growing up I never wore a jersey with a female player’s name at the back.”
Then the moment of epiphany when life comes full circle for her.
“Now when I go home to Nigeria a lot of people have a Barcelona jersey with my name on it,” the 26-year-old Oshoala tells CNN.
She pauses, reflects, and takes a deep breath.
“Well … it’s been quite the journey,” she adds with a knowing smile.
It’s a smile that tells you everything you need to know about her affirmation of belief and the power of opportunity.
The spirit of an African
As well as knowing how to deliver a punchline, Oshoala does it with honesty, passion, and humility.
“No matter the height you get to in life, you have to always remember where you come from,” she says.
Her past is also a grounding mechanism in what is an ever-changing, globalized world. It’s an identity – the “spirit of an African” as she puts it – in which the “old vibe” still holds true.
“We’ve always been a people who fight for everything and [are] ready to sacrifice,” continues Oshoala.
Growing up as a child, gender roles were clearly defined – a girl’s place was in the home or the shop.
She speaks openly of living in a Muslim society and polygamous household with seven brothers and six sisters from her father’s two wives.
“There’s this unity with my family. We are not broken […] We are from different mothers but we’re still together […] We see ourselves as the same,” she says.