As Maureen Mmadu Walks Into Nigeria Women Hall OF Fame
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By Amaechi Agbo
Super Falcons assistant coach, Maureen Nkeiruka Mmadu will today be inducted into the prestigious Nigeria Women Hall of Fame at an investiture which will hold at the National Centre for Women Development, Abuja.
Coach Mmadu is among 22 noble Nigerian women of impeccable character, global prestige and national outlook set to be inducted on Thursday.
Speaking in an interview ahead of the investiture today, Coach Mmadu expressed her delight on the recognition and added that it would spur her to do more for her motherland. She expressed appreciation to the organisers for finding her worthy of the induction and encouraged all women to continue to do their best in their various endeavours because someday, their stars will shy for global recognition.
“I was so happy, and it shows that Nigeria really recognise their legends and our services too. I really thank God over this gesture. I never expected it.
“It means a lot to me and my family and it also shows me that hard work, dedication, and focus is the key, and also made me to know that doing your best without waiting for anyone to push you is the best way on life
“The recognition was based on my being the first African woman to coach a top team in Europe and also my 101 caps in the national team too. And my hard work and focus in what I do in life
“Nigeria women They shouldn’t relent in whatever they are doing, they should continue doing their best, one day, their effort will ring bell in the country and beyond.
“I want to thank the organisers for this wonderful award and recognition, because this will propel others to keep working hard, and I pray that God will continue to bless them and give them wisdom to carry on
“The induction will make us to do and raise the name of the country high and also be good ambassador of our great country wherever we are, and they will also know that Nigeria is watching them and follow their work. I will also advise Nigerians to be good ambassador of this our great country,” she said.
Born in Anambra state on May 7th, 1975 coach Mmadu, a shining star, arose from the East and like the Three Wise Men in the Bible, went across the globe in search of gold, crowns and trophies in women football.
The last daughter of an Igbo man, one would have found it strange how her father allowed her at the age of 7 to start playing football.
And unknown to her she was treading into “men’s world” her passion for the beautiful leather game, not minding she was in a male dominated street in Onitsha, Anambra State, spurred her to play with the men. She was not afraid of their bullying because she was determined to excel.
Her mother’s initial strong criticism of her and disapproval of her interest in football was a huge block. But her father’s interest and encouragement smoothened the path for her. In these two scenarios, it was understandable why the parents acted differently – the mother wanted to protect her last angel; the father wanted to give her last Gold, what would make her happy.
Thereafter, like an early morning flower, the 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in) lady blossomed. From street football, she joined club football, played for various Nigeria clubs sides such as Ado Babes, Jegede Babes, Pelican Queens from where, like a matured eagle, she could no longer perch on small trees. Because a good product, the Igbos say, sells itself, having amassed 15 goals a season with Ado Babes, it was from there that her ladder to glory took off.
She went to Norway and mesmerised the fans with her football ingenuity. Played for different premier league clubs in the country such as IL Sandviken Klepp IL QBIK, Linköpings FC Amazon Grimstad (2008), Kolbotn IL and Avaldsnes all in the Norwegian league.
Her debut for her father land, the Super Falcons in a match in 1993 took her to a leap in her career and she never relented. She was a very regular starter with the Super falcons during her days so much so that she became the only “century player” in the team. That is, the first Super Falcons player to clock 100 caps in appearance for the team. She did not just end at that, he made it 101. A record she still holds till today.
When she decided to bare goodbye to her playing career, she took into coaching and got the UEFA Coaching Licence C. As a player and coach, she has won several accolades as she marks over four decades on earth.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s with all humility and appreciation to God, the Creator of the universe, that the organisers of the Nigeria Women Hall of Fame today inducts the only female player to have represented Nigeria in 101 different football matches; the only woman to have coached a high profile club in Europe, she is an icon, an achiever, a humble/shy coach of the Super Falcons; a coach whose position as Super Falcons assistant coach was taken away literally during the African Women’s Cup of Nation in Ghana last year such that a curator was allowed to sit in the technical area during Falcons’ matches against what is globally and professionally permissible in FIFA matches; but she put up a dogged spirit to ensure that the team emerged champions.
Like Super Eagles Captain, Mike Obi who played a crucial match for Nigeria against Argentina in last year’s FIFA World Cup knowing that his father was kidnapped, Coach Mmadu, had her own share of enduring pains just to serve her fatherland. In 1999 during FIFA Women’s World Cup, she played a match while she lost her mother. In 2004, the same scenario played out when she lost her father while on national duty. In both cases, however, the family concealed the deaths to allow her concentrate for her national assignments.
Coach Mmadu just last month led home-based Super Falcons to conquer the West Africa sub-region during the 2019 West Africa Football Union championship held in Cote D’Ivore. To cap it all, she also led the team to break a 20-year jinx at the FIFA Women’s World Cup holding in France where the team led by Swedish Coach, Thomas Dennerby with Maureen Mmadu got to the knockout stage of the tournament for the second time in their 8th consecutive appearance to the fiesta.
As Maureen Mmmadu walks into Nigeria Women Hall OF Fame