The history of female football would be incomplete if the antics of Perpetua Nkwocha is excluded. An epitome worthy of emulation by female footballers in Africa and the world at large. She was one of the great names which staked the name of the Super Falcons of Nigeria as one of Africa’s greatest sporting sides. She alongside some other great names such as Mercy Akide-Udoh, Florence Omagbemi, Precious Dede, Onome Ebi, Francesca Ordega, Maureen Mmadu helped put Nigeria’s name on the map of great female footballing nations of today’s world.

Perpetua Ijeoma Nkwocha was born in Okpalla, Imo state, Nigeria on this day in 1976. She turns 46 today. She owes her footballing beginnings to inter-secondary school games organized back in the days.

She was quoted to have once said: “I had always wanted to be a Nun or a Lawyer growing up but my love for football was too much so I followed my passion.”

It’s great to know that the dazzling midfielder chose to play the round leather game.

She played for Rivers Angels (previously known as Larry Angels) and Pelican Stars before moving ashore where she notably donned the colours of Sunana SK in Sweden, a club she spent seven years playing for.

She made her first appearance on the international scene in 1999 and was capped 99 times for the falcons scoring 80 goals within that period. Also, she represented Nigeria at every tournament in which the country participated including the Olympic games.

She won five African Cup of Nations (2002, 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2014), appeared in four FIFA Womens World Cup mundials as well as winning the African Women’s Footballer of the Year on a record four occassions (2004, 2005, 2010 and 2011), a feat fellow nigerian Asisat Oshoala would also go on to achieve.

Her dream was to win the World Cup for Nigeria but it failed to materialize;

“I want to be part of a Nigerian side that will win the World Cup. That is my desire. As I said, we can do that, we just need to believe. If we can win it, I’m sure I will be content with what I have done in football.” She once told journalists.

Her four goals against the Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroon at the South Africa 2004 AWCON final Will be fondly remembered by Nigerians.

She proceeded to coaching in 2015 after retiring in 2014 and she was an assistant coach for the Super at the 2016 and 2018 AWCON tournaments.

Nkwocha sitting in the middle of the Falcons technical bench during the AWCON 2016 tournament

Off the pitch she also set a solid example for others to follow as she led protests in her time against the nation’s football governing body over a range of issues but majorly payment issues.

Sadly such acts are yet to be abated today with Desire Oparanozie’s being stripped of captaincy in 2019 a loud example after she had demanded equal pay for the Falcons as of the Eagles.

Sadly, Nkwocha mourned the death of her husband Nwufoh who died July last year after a brief illness but as the fighter she is, has stood tall despite all of these.

She currently coaches Clemensnäs IF, a fourth tier Swedish Club.