My name is Florence Ekenechukwu, a female footballer and student at the University Of Benin, Edo state. I’m a Nigerian, from Anambra state to be precise and my present course of study is Engineering. I love teaching, studying and as a 100 level ( Year One ) student, balancing my passion and my academics is my main priority.

My current team is Bravehearts Ladies Academy, we are a grassroots team playing in Benin city, Edo state. We are a group of young girls who are passionate about the game. We train 2-3 times a week and seek to develop our game. We are a mixture of girls from different backgrounds but we all have one aim, to become the best.

Playing for Bravehearts ladies, my playing style consists of speed and skill. I think this is what makes me unique. My talent for dribbling is why most times I prefer to play in attack, either as a Centre forward or as a winger. Everyday I try and develop my ball control as my game is built around getting past defenders, scoring goals and helping my team win matches.

My goals before the year end are to improve my grades in my academics and also to try and score more goals for my team. Playing more in the centre foward position has been a challenge for me, as the rest of the team depends on me for goals. This means I need to improve my positioning, my awareness and my finishing, which are the things i’m seeking to improve. My goal before the year end is to become a better striker.

My Dad got me interested. He always took me to the stadium when I was around 5 years old. This got me acquainted with sports at a very early age. He was also into the Sports Equipment business, so everytime he would go to the stadium, he would take me with him, and i watched a lot of football trainings. As I grew older, I then became more and more interested as I was surrounded with everything to do with sports at a very early age.

My greatest challenge is balancing my academics with my football. Lecture times and training sessions sometimes coincide, meaning I have to be better organized so as to make ample time for my training sessions. Creating time for my training is really challenging but i’m getting better at it.

I practice for one hour, usually 2-3 times a week, and mostly on weekends.5. My Dad got me interested. He always took me to the stadium when I was around 5 years old. This got me acquainted with sports at a very early age. He was also into the Sports Equipment business, so everytime he would go to the stadium, he would take me with him, and i watched a lot of football trainings. As I grew older, I then became more and more interested as I was surrounded with everything to do with sports at a very early age.

Honestly I did not grow up watching much women football, and the sports icon I look up to is still Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s skilful, confident, scores a lot of goals and has a similar playing style to mine, so he inspires me.

Special routine before a game? Not really. I just study, watch TV, eat and rest. When the game is approaching i try to reflect on previous training sessions and imagine myself on the pitch applying what ive learned from the coach so far. We usually have a short team prayer before the game but thats it.For me, the defining moment is actually before the match begins. Team spirit and togetherness even before the match begins is always a defining factor. When we work as a team, have a great atmosphere and follow the coaches instructions, I believe we can never lose.

My advice for those out there is that you must stay true to your dream. Growing up in Nigeria where football is culturally seen as a ‘man’s game’ it was really difficult. Many times I was discouraged, many times I wanted to give up, but I kept playing and today I can say i’m really happy I never gave up my dream. Keep striving, keep pushing!

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