THE history of African Women Football cannot be told or written well without the boldness of the writer not talking about the giant strides of this ebony beauty, Maureen Nkeiruka Mmadu, who has the knack for attaining the heights in her chosen career as a first among equals.
Maureen wears the toga of the first African woman to become a centurion in playing for her country; the first Nigerian, male or female, to become a centurion in football, way back in the year, 2011. And as the fortunes of female football took a leap, Mau-Mau or Mama, as her peers call her, took a giant leap – she moved her skills to Europe, after 13 and half solid years of plying her trade within the country.
The genesis of these 13 plus years took root in Onitsha, with the defunct Ado Babes; got a motherly steadfastness with Jegede Babes in Lagos, for six years, where Chief (Mrs.) Ngozi Zainab Jegede, the first Mama of female football, groomed Nkiru further before one of the biggest and solid clubs in the nation snatched her, Pelican Queens of Calabar, for another six years.
Landing in Europe was never easy, as the skillful young Maureen realised that most of her Mama’s special Nigerian dishes disappeared from her daily meals. The weather was the biggest challenge, but as the black cat with nine lives, Mama withered the storms and settled pretty well into the cold regions of the Scandinavian countries of Norway and Sweden.
Norway actually became a second home for Maureen, though adventure saw her venture into Sweden for a taste. But the Norwegian way of life had the better part of her, hence, she grew into the culture of Norway, that she is today a full Nigerian/Norwegian.
Of the 15 years that Maureen spent in Europe, she grew from being a player to a player/coach with Avaldsnes IL; a premier league club; youth coach; a division one club coach with Klobthon FC, and adult/non-professional coach. Indeed, Maureen became a household name in her locality that taking the decision to come home and serve her fatherland was a heart-torn decision. The Norwegians would not let go, but the urge to give back would never die in her. Emotions rose but patriotism took the better part of valour.
Again, the African First Lady took another giant step as the first African lady to coach a European premier league club. Now, she has taken this first further: The first Nigerian female player to give back to her roots. Little wonder, Anambra State made her the first football ambassador of the state. And as an ambassador, she has taken the bull by the horn to raise more Maureen not just as footballers but as future Super Falcons’ stars.
The ambassador of football, Maureen Nkeiruka Mmadu, has started the first Anambra Football Kiddies’ Camp, AFKC, which holds from the 19th – 23rd of December, 2020, in Onitsha. The age bracket for this five-day camping is 10-15 years.
The kids will be camped at the prestigious Anglican Girls’ Secondary School, Onitsha, for a thorough grooming by the star herself, with an array of other coaches and instructors who have played and coached the game at different stages of female football.
This becomes a big opportunity for parents to see their girl-child become resourceful, a breadwinner, and a football star, for the State, the nation but most of all, the family.
But wait a minute; good things never come easy, as there are no free lunches even in Freetown. Parents are to get their kids’ forms. A form is for a token of N5,000 and only 300 girls are needed. Hold your breath, this token attracts some goodies that would be a joy forever: a branded set of jersey, football, a pair of booths, a training top and a kit bag, all produced and packaged in Norway.
Parents are also required to get a medical report that their wards are in good medical condition. Maureen assured that security is a priority as she has pulled every string to have the kids relaxed while getting their skills horned. The feeding is special that even the kids will have stories to tell about the diets after the camping.
Ndi Anambra, we all know that COVID-19 has ravaged the world economy since March this year, yet, Maureen is not deterred to truck and see the kids rise. She has so far, single-handedly funded all these, just because her heart has so much milk of kindness. However, we must not let this milk to dry so soon.
In the light of solidarity, the likes of Chief Gabros Chukwuma, the Nnanyelugo of Nnewi and the owner of former Premier Club, Gabros International FC, with his younger brother, the motor genius of Nigeria, Chief Innocent Chukwuma, the Ifediaso of Nnewi, the Group Chief Executive of Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing & Industries Limited, have thrown their weights behind Maureen’s kids’ project.
Great mention must be made of Dr. Emeka Okeke, the former Chairman of the recently dissolved Anambra State Football Association Caretaker Committee, who took the initiative to honour Maureen Mmadu as the football ambassador, an honour well deserved. He has also made personal commitment towards the success of this maiden edition. And the present Anambra State Football Ambassador Board, newly constituted, has also given her blessings.
The Anambra Football Kiddies’ Camp is going to be a regular in the state’s football calendar, starting from 2021. The camping will be coming up twice a year: the Easter period and the Christmas own.
Ndi Anambra, Maureen Mmadu is using this medium to ask you to support her pet project. She is given back out of love. Let us accept and support her out of love. At the end of the day, our girl-child will be better off and we parents, happier.
This is our own; let us rally round behind it.