Christy Ohaeriaku is the first-choice goalkeeper of the Nigerian senior national female football team the Super Falcons. In an exclusive interview, the shot-stopper who also doubles as the first team goalkeeper of Edo Queens Football Club of Benin said that Nigerian men should be held responsible for the majority of female footballers not being married in the country. Excerpts
May we meet you officially?
My name is Christy Ohaeriaku, the number one Super Falcons goalkeeper, and also plays for Edo Queens Football Club of Benin in Edo State.
Records have shown that most female footballers in Nigeria don’t get married or rather scared of getting a life partner. Why is this so?
From my own understanding, I don’t think any woman is scared of getting married. Marriage is something that is ordained from heaven. From my experience and from what I have seen and heard, the problem is mostly from our men.
As a female footballer, I have traveled to many countries in the course of my profession and I have seen big-time foreign female players getting married and living happily with their families. But in Nigeria, the majority of our men don’t like marrying female footballers or sportswomen generally because they are muscular in nature and because they see them as if they were men.
So they feel like getting married to them is like getting married to their fellow men. They see their physique as a factor, forgetting that that is what God has destined them to do. Every human being on earth has his or her own calling. So if I’m into sports as a woman and that is what puts food on my table I am not going to playing because one man wants to ask my hand in marriage. Again, a woman cannot force herself on any man because she wants to get married. If God says that woman will marry and bear children there is nothing on earth that will stop it. I believe that there is time for everything.
It is true that Nigerian men do milk our female footballers dry, siphon their hard-earned money, and at the end dump them? Have you experienced such a situation in your career as a female player?
Yes, I have heard most of my seniors in this profession share their bitter experiences on how they had been victims of dubious lovers. Men come to us because they believe that we are celebrities and that we have money. They will come to you; you fall in love with them believing that they are in love with you not knowing that some of them are just after your money. You find that out after spending so much for such a man and having the best of that female player, in the end, they dump them.
Every woman wants to get married, not only female athletes it affects every woman so it is a general phenomenon. No woman is afraid to get married, any woman that has the opportunity to get married is always happy to do so, playing football cannot deny a woman the opportunity of getting married.
Some men believe that muscular female athletes can make a good home, do you agree with them?
No, I disagree with them on that assumption. This is where they get it wrong. Being a footballer does not stop any woman from her responsibility as a wife. Every good woman knows how to handle her domestic work, and every god woman knows how to go about her responsibilities. Nigerian men need to start getting married to female footballers or women athletes.
We are very responsible people; in fact, female footballers are the best ladies to get wedded to. They have everything a man needs; they can make their men very happy give them care and love. Men should not allow the muscular physique of female athletes to be a hindrance. If they are not convinced, they should ask to hear from those men that have married female players. So our men should not be scared of getting married to female players just because they look muscular, it is the nature of our job. Once we stop playing and start giving birth to children our natural physique will return.
Some men have complained that female footballers don’t like men coming close to them, as they prefer loving their fellow girls than men. What is your take on this?
Sometimes it is like that because at times men are a distraction. Again it all depends on the approach by the person involved. You don’t expect me to have a crucial national assignment where all my attention is focused on how to do well in that game; how to stop opponents from finding the back of my post, and how to make my managers proud, and one man would be telling me ‘come and visit me.
I’m missing you, I want to see your lovely face,’ and all that. It is like a distraction to me. So when you reject to honour such an invitation, they will see you as a bad girl, not knowing that you need time to think about the task ahead of you. So I feel most female footballers and athletes just want to keep away from anything that will be inimical to their progress at that particular time.
I remember our legend Perpetua Nkwocha, she said during her time that she did not give room to any boyfriend or man friend that she gave all her time to the game. So when she was through with her career, she found a man that likes her for what she is, and today she is happily married.
Are you married now as a player?
Of course, I’m happily married to a man God has ordained for me. He understands the kind of job I’m doing, he gives me all the support needed for me to excel, he also prays for me. So I have no problem. When I‘m done with my playing career, God will begin to bless us with children.
Finally, what is your advice to upcoming young female footballers as regards marriage?
My advice to them is this, as they are into football, it does not change them from being women. It does not make one not to be a good woman or a good wife. All one needs to do is focus on one’s career, but if you see any responsible man coming for you, you must make sure that the man likes you and your career.
Such a man or boy should like you for who you are; whether you are muscular, short, tall, fat, or slim, the first question you must ask yourself is does this man like me naturally? Does he like the kind of job I do? Is he coming for my money? So when the man loves what you do, and he gives you support and you love the person too, you can go ahead with the person.
Again, as an athlete, you don’t need to chase men away. You play along with them, study them like you study books, study the parental background also, ensure that he is not the type that would come and ruin your life or career. Any guy who comes and falls in love with you and before two weeks he starts telling you stories like, ‘look babe, my mother is sick, my father is sick, I need money,’ just know that such a man is not serious, he is out to milk and get the best out of you. Such a man would dump you at the slightest chance. My female colleagues should run away from such evil men.
As Edo Queens’ first-choice goalkeeper, what are your dreams for Edo Queens FC?
I love Edo Queens football club, I want Edo Queens to do very well, I will be very happy if Edo Queens will come out in flying colours. My greatest dream for Edo Queens is for us to qualify for Champions League, play top-flight football in the continent, win the NWFL title and make the state government very proud especially our father the Deputy Governor of Edo State Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu. He has done so much for us as a club, and we need to pay him back by winning laurels for the state.
Any regret playing for Edo Queens so far?
No regrets at all. Edo Queens is a good club; I’m really enjoying my stay here in Benin. I love Edo Queens, they care very doing well for players. They give young players the opportunity to grow and management has done a lot for us. It is my prayer that we make it at the end. Edo Queens is one of the biggest female teams in the Nigeria Women Football League and every Nigerian professional female football player wants to lace her boots for Edo Queens. It is a place to be. I’m very elated playing for Edo Queens.