It’s not news that Nigerian women often have to deal with gender inequality and misogyny in their everyday life. The conversation regarding the marginalization of Nigerian women spans from news reports, information on gender-based violence increasing by the day or the cultural data regarding the equal pay conversation. “Women have to be put in their place” is a phrase we all know too well.
The Nigerian sports industry is made of remarkable women who consistently challenge these biases, leaving many in awe at their numerous accomplishments amidst outstanding odds, in an industry and system that would mostly favour men.
Without a doubt, women are responsible for a larger percentage of Nigeria’s sporting accomplishments. Nigerian women fare far better than their male counterparts in terms of effect and sheer numbers. Despite this, women’s participation in sports has been mostly ignored in Nigeria.
So, we have compiled this list of 50 amazing women in the Nigeria sports Industry, challenging the bias and making a way for a more equal and inspired world.
This list was done in association with The Athletic Heat.
Oluwatobiloba Ayomide “Tobi” Amusan (born 23 April 1997) is a Nigerian track and field athlete who specializes in the 100m hurdles and also competes as a sprinter.
She is the current African, Commonwealth, and World Champion in the 100m hurdles, as well as the record holder in all three Championships.
She won the gold medal in the 100-meter hurdles event at the 2022 World Athletics Championships, becoming the first Nigerian to set a world record at an athletics event. In the semifinal, she set a new world record of 12.12 seconds, and in the final, she ran a wind-assisted 12.06 seconds to win the gold.
She won back-to-back African and Commonwealth titles in 2018 and 2022 in the 100m hurdles and is also a two-time African Games champion in the event.
She won the Diamond League Trophy in Zurich in 2021 for the 100m hurdles, becoming the first Nigerian to do so, also breaking the then-African record held by Glory Alozie in the process.
Asisat Lamina Oshoala, a striker for FC Barcelona Femen of the Primera División and the Nigerian women’s national team, was born in Nigeria on October 9, 1994.
She is the most decorated African female footballer of all time and a record five-time African Women’s Footballer of the Year.
She is widely recognized as one of the greatest African female footballers of all time.
Asisat has previously played for the Nigerian clubs Rivers Angels and FC Robo, the Chinese club Dailan, and the English clubs Arsenal and Liverpool.
She won the 2015 FA Women’s Cup with Arsenal, two league titles, a cup, and the 2019–20 Copa de la Reina and 2019–20 Supercopa de España Femenina with Barcelona. She also won the 2015 FA Women’s Cup with Dalian. She helped Barcelona advance to the semifinals three times in a row and once in the final of the UEFA Women’s Champions League, becoming the first player from Africa (and Nigeria) to do so. After Barcelona defeated Chelsea 4-0 in the championship match, Asisat became the first African woman to win the UEFA Champions League on May 16, 2021.
The following season, she became the first African woman to win the Primera División’s Pichichi Trophy, and in August 2022, she became the first African woman nominated for a Ballon d’Or.
In 2021, she was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30.
Nigerian athlete Ese Brume (born January 20, 1996) excels in the long jump.
She is the current Commonwealth champion in the long jump and a three-time African senior champion with a personal best of 7.17 meters. She now holds the Commonwealth Games record, African junior record, and African record in the event. She has won two medals at the World Athletics Championships, an Olympic bronze medal, and five junior African athletics titles.
She is also the first African to win two long jump medals at the World Athletics Championships and the only athlete to win three straight long jump championships at the African Athletics Championships.
Brume won the bronze medal in the long jump event at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, with a jump of 6.91 m, and at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, with a jump of 6.97 m.
She broke the record for the first African woman to clear four legal marks over seven meters in 2022.
Favour Chukwuka Ofili (born December 31st, 2002) is a Nigerian track and field athlete specializing in 100 meters and 200 meters events, at the early stage of her career, she competed in the 400 meters.
The sprinter had a fantastic year in 2019, winning both the 200-meter and 400-meter events and being awarded the best female athlete at the African U18 and U20 Championships.
The 19-year-old ran the 400 meters in under 52 seconds for the first time that year, finishing second to Patience George in the Nigerian Championships.
She anchored the Nigerian team (Kemi Francis, Patience George, Blessing Oladoye, and Favour Ofili) to a gold medal in the women’s 4 x 400 m relay at the African Games. This secured a second senior medal for the young athlete that same year.
However, the youngster had a remarkable year in 2022, shattering and setting new records. The first occurred on April 15 when Ofili, running a blazing 21.96 seconds, became the first college athlete to ever clock a time under 22 seconds by shattering Blessing Okagbare’s 200-meter national record at the Tom Jones Memorial Classic 2022 in Florida.
She wasn’t done as she went on to win the 100m and 200m at the Southeastern Conference Championships and a pair of Silver at the NCAA D1 Championships final and the Commonwealth Games in the 200m.
This woman jumped in with her fists first and hasn’t looked back in a world where most women would be reluctant to participate in boxing, which is primarily seen as a man’s sport.
In February in London, policewoman Aina won the World Boxing Foundation International Super Bantamweight title belt.
She competed for the belt against Laura Pain of the United Kingdom, better known as “Iron Abbey”. She won the championship fight by unanimous decision with four victories and three knockouts, making history as the first woman from Nigeria and Africa to accomplish the feat.
She is an active member of the Lagos State Police Command, a professional fighter, and a boxing referee who has distinguished herself in the sport by receiving numerous accolades and recommendations.
Gift Monday (born 9 December 2001) is a Nigerian footballer who plays as a striker for NWFL Premiership club Bayelsa Queens, where she serves as captain.
Monday won the league’s Player of the Month award in January 2021 for the second time in a row.
In March 2021, Monday’s two goals helped FC Robo overcome the unbeaten Rivers Angels 2-1.
Gift Monday served as both the inspiration for Bayelsa Queens to win the league championship in 2021–22 and the season’s top scorer.
Monday competed at the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France. In 2019, she captained the team to its first gold medal in 12 years at the African Games after defeating Cameroon 3–1 on penalties.
In February 2021, Monday was named to the senior national team squad ahead of the 2021 Turkish Women’s Cup. She was part of the team that won the championship and was the first African team to do so. She scored the eighth goal in the team’s 9–0 win over Equatorial Guinea.
Chioma Chukwujindu “CiCi” Onyekwere is a Nigerian track and field athlete who was born in the United States and specializes in the discus throw. She was born on June 28, 1994 in Lansing, Michigan.
She has represented Nigeria in shotput and discus throw competitions at the collegiate level as well as internationally. She also holds the national record for discus throw in Nigeria. In 2021, she set a personal record for the Discus Throw with a distance of 63.30 meters.
For her discus throw at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, she received a gold medal. Over the course of her career, she has won three African titles, two gold medals in a row at the African Championships (in 2018 and in 2022), and a gold medal at the 2019 African Games. She represented Nigeria at the 2019 & 2022 World Athletics Championships
The Big Ten and the ACC honored her for her academic success during her four years as an athlete at the University of Maryland, where she also served as one of the team captains. She has received five Big Ten Conference medals; All-Big Ten; All-Academic Big Ten; and Solomon Eye Terp of the Week awards during her college career.
Abiola Ogunbanwo, at 17 years old, made history by finishing the women’s 100 meter freestyle in less than one minute.
The teenager broke Ngozi Monu’s previous Nigerian record of 1:00.50, which had stood as the standard since 2007, by posting a new personal best of 59.74 seconds in heat 2 of the women’s 100 meter freestyle.
In 2019, she represented Nigeria at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships held in Gwangju, South Korea. She competed in the women’s 100 meter freestyle and women’s 200 meter freestyle events.
In 2021, she competed in the women’s 100 meter freestyle event at the 2020 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo, Japan.
Blessing Oborududu (born March 12, 1989, in Gbanranu) is a Nigerian freestyle wrestler. She is currently ranked as the world’s number two female wrestler.
Blessing Oborududu took home the highest medal for Nigeria at the Tokyo Olympics after winning silver in the women’s freestyle 68kg division.
The 32-year-old Nigerian accomplished the feat despite losing the final 4-1 to Tamyra Stock-Mensah of the United States.
Oborududu beat Kyrgyzstan’s Meerim Zhumanazarova and Azerbaijan’s Elis Manolova in the preliminary rounds to earn a spot in the championship match.
Her Olympic wrestling medal in Tokyo was the nation’s first-ever.
In 2022, she won the gold medal in the 68 kg event at the Yasar Dogu Tournament held in Istanbul, Turkey.
Flora Ugwunwa (born 26 June 1984) is a Nigerian Paralympic athlete competing in F54-classification events. She represented Nigeria at the 2016 Summer Paralympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and she won the gold medal in the women’s javelin throw F54 event. She also set a new world record of 20.25m at this event.
She represented Nigeria at the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan after winning the silver medal in the women’s javelin throw F54 event at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She defended her Paralympic title in Tokyo. The defending Paralympic champion threw a Season’s Best of 19.39m on her fifth attempt, and was the only athlete to go over the 19m mark on the day,
Rosemary Chukwuma (born December 5, 2001) is a Nigerian sprinter.
Rosemary Chukwuma gained her first international experience at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, where she won a bronze medal behind the teams from England and Jamaica with the Nigerian 4 × 100 m relay team in 42.75 seconds.
In the summer, she won a gold medal with the 4 × 100 m relay team at the 2018 African Championships in Asaba but did not start in the 200 m event. Earlier, she won double gold at the 2018 African Youth Games in Algiers over 100 m and 200 m and thus qualified for the Summer Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, where she won the 100 m gold medal.
In 2019, she won triple gold at the Junior African Championships in Abidjan with 11.62 seconds and 23.81 seconds finishing over 100 m and 200 m respectively, and in 45.56 seconds with the Nigerian 4 × 100 m relay team. In early May, she ran in the 4 × 100 m relay for Nigeria at the IAAF World Relays in Yokohama, clocking 45.07 seconds in the first round. Then she took part in the African Games for the first time in Rabat and reached the final of the 200 m, where she did not start. She also won gold with the Nigerian relay team in 44.16 seconds.
In 2022, she ran the fastest time by a Nigerian woman this season under all conditions, clocking 10.82s, and then she was a finalist at the NCAA 100m and 200m, as well as 4th place in the 100m at the Commonwealth Games and she, was also a 4th place finisher with the women’s 4x100m squad at the World Athletics Championships.
At the 2021 Nigerian National Sports Festival in the southern city of Benin, Aminat Idrees won gold, silver, and bronze medals in taekwondo while eight months pregnant.
In Nigeria’s “local Olympics,” Idrees, who was representing Lagos State, won gold in the pair poomsae, silver in the team poomsae, and bronze in the individual poomsae.
Taekwondo poomsae is a non-contact activity that entails a series of coordinated demonstrations of techniques that simulate attack and defense.
Nonetheless, Idrees’ accomplishments drew immediate attention and made her a viral phenomenon.
Ugochi Desire Oparanozie, a forward in the Chinese Women’s Super League for Wuhan Jianghan University and the Nigerian national team, was born in Nigeria on December 17, 1993.
She competed for her country as a junior international, scoring twice at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2010 and three times in 2012.
Since 2010, Oparanozie has consistently competed for the Nigerian national team, competing in the FIFA Women’s World Cups in 2011, 2015, and 2019.
Coach Thomas Dennerby appointed Oparanozie the new captain of Nigeria in April 2019 and lauded her “control and good character.”
She spearheaded efforts for equal compensation in Nigerian football after the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, highlighting differences with the incentives received by the team’s male counterparts.
She also competed for Nigeria in the African Women’s Championship teams in 2010, 2014, 2016, and 2018, winning all four competitions. In both the finals in 2014 and 2016, she scored significant goals.
Goodness Nwachukwu was born in 1999. She hails from the south-eastern part of Nigeria.
She is a para discus thrower and a Nigerian athlete.
Nwachukwu twice shattered the world record in the Women’s Discus Throw F42-44/61-64 competition. She recorded a score of 34.84m on her first throw, breaking the previous record. Then, in her second attempt, she broke that record with a distance of 36.56m, winning her a gold medal.
She held the F42 world record with a best mark of 33.35m prior to the Commonwealth Games, but she increased that distance with her first throw of 34.84m and subsequently increased it with a throw of 36.56m.
Cecilia Otu Offiong-Akpan (born June 13, 1986 in Calabar, Cross River) is a Nigerian table tennis player.
She won two gold medals, along with her partner Offiong Edem, in the women’s doubles at the 2007 All-Africa Games in Algiers, Algeria, and at the 2011 All-Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique.
She is a member of the table tennis team for Calabar Sports Club, and is coached and trained by Obisanya Babatunde.
Offiong made her official debut, as an 18-year-old, at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, where she competed in both singles and doubles tournaments.
Four years after competing in her first Olympics, Offiong qualified for her second Nigerian team, as a 22-year-old, at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, by placing third at the All-Africa Games in Algiers, Algeria, and receiving a continental spot for Africa in the women’s team under ITTF’s Computer Team Ranking List.
Offiong joined her fellow players and Olympic veterans Olufunke Oshonaike and Bose Kaffo for the inaugural women’s team event. She and her team placed fourth in the preliminary pool round against Singapore, the United States, and the Netherlands, receiving a total of three points and three straight losses.
Patience Okon George
Patience Okon George (born November 25, 1991) is a Nigerian sprinter. She competed in the 400 meters event at the 2015 World Championships in Athletics in Beijing, China, and also at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
George is a two-time African Championships bronze medallist in the individual 400 meters event. She is also a three-time Nigerian national champion in the 400 meters.
In 2019, George won the gold medal in the women’s 4 × 400 meters relay at the 2019 African Games held in Rabat, Morocco.
George recently competed in her 5th Championship in her favourite relay event. She made up a team that consisted of Imaobong Nse Uko, Dubem Amene, and Samson Oghenewegba Nathaniel in the 4×400 mixed relay at the Oregon World Championships where they finished 6th in the final.
Imaobong Nse Uko
Imaobong Nse Uko was born on February 20, 2004.
At the age of 14, she became the Nigeria National Sports Festival (NSF) Champion in the 400 meters, winning the title in a personal best of 52.36s. She caused an upset which surprised the journalists and officials as she beat older and more experienced athletes to take the title.
She competed in the mixed 4 × 400 meters relay event at the 2020 Summer Olympics. The 17-year-old won a gold medal over the 400 meters at the 2021 World Under 20 Championships.
She placed third at the 2021 Nigerian Athletics Championships and Olympic Trials behind George and Knowledge Omovoh which helped secure her place on the Olympic squad.
She recently competed in Oregon at the World Athletics Championships in her debut senior championships in the 400m and 4x400m mixed relay events. She is currently a student at Baylor University.
Nigerian freestyle wrestler Odunayo Folasade Adekuoroye was born on December 10, 1993.
She competed in the women’s freestyle 53 kg event in 2014, where she won a gold medal, and in the same event in 2015, when she took home a bronze medal.
At the 2017 World Wrestling Championships, she took home the silver medal in the women’s freestyle 55 kilogram division.
Odunayo Adekuoroye was the UWW’s top-ranked wrestler in the women’s freestyle 55 kg division in 2017. She later won the silver medal in that division despite falling just short of Haruna Okuno of Japan in the World Wrestling Championship final in Paris, France.
She won the women’s freestyle 57 kg gold medal in 2020 at the African Wrestling Championships. At the Baraza Champion of Champions wrestling competition in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Nigeria, in 2021, she took home the gold medal. She won the gold medal in her competition at the 2021 Poland Open in Warsaw, Poland, in June of that year.
At the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, she represented Nigeria.
She won one of the bronze medals in her competition at the Rome, Italy-hosted Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series 2022.
Adijat Adenike Olarinoye (born July 14, 1999) is a Nigerian weightlifter.
In the women’s 55 kg competition at the Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 2021 World Weightlifting Championships, she took home the silver medal. She competed for Nigeria at the 2019 African Games, marking her first appearance at an African Games, and she won three medals, including two golds in the women’s 55 kg weightlifting competition.
Adijat lifted 116 kg on August 26, 2019, at the 2019 African Games, setting a new African record in the clean and jerk division of weightlifting.
She set two new games records at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK, winning the gold medal with 92 kg in snatch and 203 kg overall.
Chiamaka Cynthia Nnadozie is a Nigerian footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Paris FC in the French Division 1 Féminine and the Nigeria national team.
During the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, Nnadozie played all 4 matches. Against Haiti, she received the “Dare to Shine” Player of the Match award for her good performance. Not long after the U-20 Tournament, she was also selected for the 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, where she stayed on the bench for all five matches. At the 2019 Women’s WAFU Cup, she was in goal for the Super Falcons’ spectacular performance.
Nnadozie was selected to play for the senior national team (the Super Falcons) at the age of 19 in preparation for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. Nnadozie became the youngest goalie to record a clean sheet at the World Cup while playing as Nigeria’s starting goalkeeper in the team’s 2-0 victory over Korea.
Nnadozie once more assisted the Falconets in winning the gold medal at the African Games in Morocco following the World Cup by saving three penalties against Cameroon in the shootout.
Cynthia Uwak (born July 15, 1986 in Akwa Ibom State) is a Nigerian football striker who most recently played for Åland United in the Naisten Liiga in Finland.
Cynthia Uwak began her club career with Finnish women’s side KMF, and has spent the majority of her club career in Scandinavia.
She was part of the Olympique Lyonnais team that won the Division 1 Féminine title in France in 2009. She moved to Finnish side Åland United in 2013, where she won a further Naisten Liiga title in 2013, and was the top goal scorer in the division.
Uwak competed at the 2008 Summer Olympics and the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
She was the recipient of the African Women’s Footballer of the Year Award in both 2006 and 2007.
Uchenna Grace Kanu (born 20 June 1997) is a Nigerian professional footballer who plays as a forward for Mexican Liga MX Femenil club Tigres UANL and the Nigeria women’s national team.
After joining Tigres UNAL, Kanu did not only become the first Nigerian woman but also the first African to play in Mexico following a rule change to allow the signing of non-Mexicans.
During her four-year studies at South Eastern University, she played over 100 games, emerging as the all-time top-scorer with 157 goals, and even has November 18 dedicated to her as “Uchenna Kanu Day”.
Kanu represented Nigeria at the 2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup and the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. She made her senior debut on April 8, 2019, in a 1–2 friendly loss to Canada.
She was nominated for the African Women’s Footballer of the Year Award in 2019.
Ruth Usoro (born 8 October 1997) is a Nigerian athlete who competes in the Long and Triple Jump events.
A student at Texas Tech University, on 26 February 2021 Usoro jumped 6.82m in the long jump to meet the qualifying standard for Tokyo Olympics Games. It was the 2nd best jump in the world for the season at the time and the 3rd best on the Nigerian all-time list alongside Ese Brume.
On 12 June 2021, she jumped 14.19m to win the triple jump at the 2021 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field, Eugene, Oregon. She also won the NCAA indoor title in 2021. Her personal best triple jump of 14.50 in Texas met the qualifying standard for the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the triple jump and placed her in the top 10 in the world for the year. Despite arriving in Tokyo to compete at the Olympic Games, Usoro was ruled out when her name was included on a list of ten athletes from her country ineligible to participate due to non-compliance with out-of-competition drug testing requirements in the run-up to the Games.
She put that behind her and trained for the 2022 World Championships, she finished 8th during the World Indoor Championships and was also a finalist at the World Outdoor Championships. 2022 was indeed a great year for the National Record holder who finished 6th at the Commonwealth Games. Ruth also holds her school record in the Long and Triple jumps.
Joy Udo-Gabriel, who was born on June 2, 1999, has dominated the track since she broke the record for the fastest schoolgirl in Lagos State at just 16 years old in 2015.
When asked how she planned to combine her education and athletics, she famously replied, “The race is for the legs and the law is for the brain!” She was discovered at the Benin Auditions of the Top Sprinter Reality Show produced by Making of Champions (MoC).
She won a bronze medal in the 100 meters at the 2018 African Championships, a bronze medal in the 4 × 100-meter relay at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, as well as a gold medal in the 4 x 100-meter relay at the 2019 African Games. In 2019 as well, she won her first National Senior title winning the 100m finals at the Nigerian Championships.
In 2022, She made her second appearance at the World Athletics Championships where she alongside her teammates finished 4th in the womens 4x100m, she also clinched a Gold medal in the same event at the Commonwealth Games in an African Record in 42.10s.
Ezinne Kalu (born June 26, 1992) is a Nigerian-American basketball player for Landerneau Bretagne Basket and the Nigerian national team.
In the 2017, 2019, and 2021 Afrobasket events, she represented D’Tigress, Africa’s highest-ranked side, and won three straight championships for them. She was also named the 2019 Women’s Afrobasket Most Valuable Player (MVP).
After graduating from Savannah State, Kalu spent two seasons in the Portuguese Championship. In 2015, she signed with Clube Desportivo Torres Novas (22.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.1 assists). At the end of her first season in Portugal, she signed with Olivais Coimbra (21.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.3 assists).
In 2017, Kalu signed with Hungarian club Vasas Akademia for one season (17.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.9 assists).
In November 2018, she signed with the German club, Keltern. She helped Keltern qualify for the final of the German Championship with 13.6 points and 2.5 assists.
In 2019, she joined the French side Landerneau BB, where she averaged 15.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists in the 2019-2020 season.
Kalu also participated in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in July 2021 and was part of the Nigerian team that narrowly lost to Team USA, leading the team with 16 points. In September 2021, she participated in the Afrobasket tournament, emerging champion with Nigeria’s D’Tigress, averaging 12.4 points, 3 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game. She was named to the all Star team of the tournament.
Table tennis player Olufunke Oshonaike-Irabor, popularly known as Funke Oshonaike, was born in Nigeria on October 28, 1975. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, she represented Nigeria.
Young Oshonaike began her playing career in the early 1980s on a street called Akeju Street in Shomolu, Lagos.
She was quite small and used to astound people with her abilities at that young age, making every performance a spectacle.
She attended Community Primary School in Agunbiade, Shomolu, Lagos, currently known as Ola-Olu Primary School. When she was in primary 4, she won a competition for the school and was recognized by Mr. G.O. Taiwo, the headmaster, in front of her classmates on the assembly grounds.
Oshonaike participated in the women’s single event at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. She defeated Mariana Sahakian of Lebanon in the opening round. During the Parade of Nations, she carried the Nigerian flag.
At the 2020 Summer Olympics, she took part in the women’s singles competition.
Loveline Obiji, a powerlifter from Nigeria, was born on September 11th, 1990. At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, she took part in the women’s +61 kg competition and won a gold medal.
She briefly won the 86 kg gold medal at the 2014 World Championships when Randa Mahmoud’s final lift, which established a world record, was not permitted. Mahmoud filed an appeal, and as a result, her lift was authorized, earning her the gold medal and the world record. Obiji accepted the silver.
She wrapped up Nigeria’s participation in Powerlifting at Tokyo 2020 Paralympics and brought the country’s haul to six medals.
Loveline Obiji started powerlifting in 2006, in Imo state, Nigeria.
She was named Sportswoman of the Year at the 2015 Nigerian Sports Awards.
Rasheedat Busayo Ajibade (born 8 December 1999) competes for both the Nigeria women’s national team and Spanish Premier League club Atlético de Madrid. She goes by the moniker “RASH,” which is an abbreviation of her first name, and is also referred to as “The Girl With The Blue Hair” in honor of the vivid blue hairdo she wears on the field.
Before making her competitive debut for the senior team at the 2018 WAFU Cup in Côte d’Ivoire, Ajibade competed for Nigeria at age grade events. She was ranked #1 on Goal.com’s top 10 list of the most talented young footballers on the African continent in 2017.
Rasheedat Ajibade has represented Nigeria at under-17, under-20 and senior national team levels. In the African qualifiers, en route to the 2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, Ajibade scored a brace for Nigeria’s first leg win over Namibia. At the competition proper, Ajibade scored the winning goal in Nigeria’s first game against China. In the final group game against Mexico, Ajibade scored a goal in Nigeria’s two goal win to seal a quarter final game with Spain.
Ajibade was part of the 2018 African Nations Championship Nigeria women’s national football team, where she won the tournament alongside the team. She captained the Super Falcons for the first time in a 1-0 friendly victory over Slovenian club, Olimpija Ljubljana in Vienna, Austria.
She was the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations’ top scorer in 2022.
In January 1976, Perpetua Nkwocha was born in Imo State, Nigeria. When she was in secondary school, she participated in organized sports and was noticed by prestigious teams. She later played for Larry Angels (now River Angels) and Pelican Stars in the Nigerian league. She competed in the Chinese league before joining Sunnan SK in Sweden in 2007.
Nkwocha made her debut for Nigeria in 1999 and went on to make 99 appearances while scoring 80 goals. She participated in four FIFA Women’s World Cup competitions between 2003 and 2015 while playing for the Super Falcons, winning five African Cup of Nations championships (in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010, and 2014). She also performed at the Olympics in Sydney (2000), Athen (2004), and Beijing (2008).
She won Player of the Tournament and top goalscorer honors in South Africa in 2004. Nkwocha also won the first of four African Women’s Footballer of the Year honors that year (the others coming in 2005, 2010 and 2011).
Nkwocha was a goal-scoring midfielder who was dubbed “the ideal Nigerian footballer” for her ability to combine great pace with flair. She was renowned for being able to dribble in confined situations.
Nkwocha continued to play into her late 30s, but in 2015, when she joined Swedish fourth-tier club Clemensnäs IF, she transitioned into coaching. She reportedly spent the winter of 2016 coaching a group of Afghan immigrants in her hometown of Skelleftea, Sweden, where she also coached boys’ teams. Nkwocha served as the Super Falcons’ assistant coach at the 2016 and 2018 Africa Cup of Nations competitions.
Female footballers in Nigeria continue to experience a great deal of discrimination, from unequal remuneration to persistent homophobia. The Super Falcons protested outside the Nigerian Parliament in 2016 to demand the payment of promised bonuses.
Nkwocha continues to serve as an inspiration for female footballers in Africa and abroad because of her willingness to speak out against injustice as well as her accomplishments on the field.
Mary Taiwo Osijo was born on November 21st, 1996 to Pastor Albert Adebayo Osijo and Alhaja Afolake Osijo, who hail from Ijebu Ode in Ogun state, Nigeria. She grew up in Epe, Lagos state, where she attended her primary school, LupeToro Primary School Epe. Thereafter, she later gained admission to Epe Girl’s High School, Epe.
Mary Taiwo Osijo, a weightlifter, competes for Nigeria in international events’ 87 kg weight class. She won bronze at the 2022 Commonwealth Games held in August 2022.
Taiwo started out by playing hockey in Lagos. While joining her father on the field for round-leather game practice, her enthusiasm for sports was reignited.
Taiwo aspires to become an Olympian in weightlifting in the near future. Taiwo is a hairdresser and makeup artist. When she is not attending sporting events at the stadium, she enjoys working at these two jobs, which keep her busy.
Eucharia Njideka Iyiazi (born November 19, 1973) is a Paralympic athlete from Nigeria, competing mainly in category F57/58 shot put and discus throw events. She has competed at four paralympics, taking two gold, a silver and two bronze medals.
Iyiazi competed in the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, China. There, she won a gold medal in both the women’s shot put F57/F58 event and the women’s discus throw F57/F58 event. At the Beijing Paralympics, Iyiazzi set the world and Paralympic record for the F58 class in shot put and discus.
Iyiazi took a bronze medal in the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London and then threw 27.54m to again take the discus bronze at the 2016 Summer Paralympics.
She won a gold medal in the women’s F55-57 shot put at the 2022 Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Birmingham on August 6th, 2022 with a throw of 10.03 meters. It was Nigeria’s eighth gold medal at the 2022 CWG. She had previously won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
Erica Erinma Ogwumike (born September 26, 1997) is a Nigerian American basketball player. She played college basketball for the Rice Owls.
In July 2020, she announced her decision to play for the Nigeria women’s national basketball team in the Tokyo Olympics. Aside from athletics, Ogwumike is also an aspiring doctor and is currently in medical school.
Ogwumike started her college career with the Pepperdine Waves women’s basketball team, where she averaged 18.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game in her freshman season.
She transferred to Rice University in 2016, where she couldn’t play for the 2016–17 season for the Rice Owls women’s basketball team due to transfer rules. In her sophomore season in 2017, she averaged 17.9 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. In her junior year, she averaged 16.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. She played her senior year as a graduate student. She averaged 19 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists.
Erica was called up and participated in the Nigeria women’s national basketball team’s 10 day training camp for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games in Atlanta by the team coach, Otis Hughley Jr. She participated in the basketball event at the 2020 Summer Olympics, where she averaged 1 rebound and 1 assist.
Florence Omagbemi, a former football midfielder from Nigeria, was born on August 2, 1975. She competed for Nigeria in four FIFA Women’s World Cups, three African Women’s Cup of Nations tournaments, and the Summer Olympics in 2000. She had previously served as an assistant coach for the Nigerian women’s national under-20 football team before being selected as temporary coach of the national team in 2016.
For more than ten years, Omagbemi represented Nigeria on the women’s national football team. She participated in four FIFA Women’s World Cups and was a member of the team that advanced to the second round of the 1999 tournament before falling to Brazil. In her role as captain, she led the “Super Falcons” to four victories in the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, taking home the trophy in 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2004. She also participated in the Nigerian team’s inaugural Summer Olympics competition in Australia in 2000.
Before being called up to serve as the assistant coach for the Nigerian women’s national under-20 football team, Omagbemi started her coaching career with a number of youth teams with American bases. The squad was in that position when it advanced to the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup semifinals before being defeated by the Americans. The senior national team’s temporary coach for the 2016 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations was announced as Omagbemi. Since Christopher Danjuma was fired as head coach of Nigeria in the wake of the team’s dismal showing in the 2015 African Games, Nigeria had been without a head coach.
It was discovered that Omagbemi had not been paid by the Nigeria Football Federation a month before the competition began. The NFF promised she would get paid before the team left for the competition in response.
Florence Omagbemi became the first female to win the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations in both coaching and playing roles on December 3, 2016.
Lucy Ogechukwu Ejike (born 16 October 1977) is a Nigerian Paralympic powerlifter. She has represented her country at six consecutive Paralympic Games from 2000 in Sydney through to 2021 in Tokyo. She has won medals in each, three gold, two silver, and one bronze. She won a further silver medal at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth games women’s lightweight category of the Para Powerlifting event.
Lucy Ejike once again demonstrated her superiority in the women’s 67kg event as she claimed gold at the 2021 World Para Powerlifting Championships in Tbilisi, Georgia. Ejike endured a disappointing outing at the Tokyo Games but rebounded admirably in Georgia to win her third world title with a lift of 126kg to edge China’s Yujiao Tan (125kg) and Fatma Omar of Egypt (122kg). Ejike’s third world title equals her Paralympics haul of three gold medals and ensures she remains the preeminent force in her field.
Taiwo Liadi is a Nigerian athlete and weightlifter. She was born on June 14, 2002, in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. She also had her primary and secondary in Oyo State, Ibadan.
She competes in the 76kg category and represents Nigeria in both national and international competitions. She won a silver medal for Nigeria in August 2022 at the Commonwealth Games. She also broke and set a new junior Commonwealth record in the Clean & Jerk category.
Ngozi Eucharia Uche
Ngozi Eucharia Uche, a former football player and head coach of the Nigeria women’s national team, was born on June 18, 1973, in Mbaise, Imo State, Nigeria. Uche was raised in Nigeria’s Owerri.
She was raised in a middle-class household as the first of five children. She attended Delta State University after graduating from the Egbu Girls Secondary School in Owerri. Uche started playing soccer when he was in high school.
She was a member of the Super Falcons national team and later served as their first female coach. She made history in 2010 by becoming the first female coach to win the African Women’s Championship.
Rafiatu Folashade Lawal (born November 12, 1996) is a Nigerian weightlifter.
She won a gold medal in the women’s 59 kg event at the 2022 Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham, England. She also set new Commonwealth Games records in the Snatch (90 kg), Clean & Jerk (116 kg) and Total (206 kg).
She competed in the women’s 59 kg event at the 2021 World Weightlifting Championships held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. She finished in 6th place in this competition.
In 2019, she represented Nigeria at the African Games held in Rabat, Morocco, and she won a gold medal in the women’s 59 kg event. She also won the gold medal in both the Snatch and Clean & Jerk events. She also set a new African record of 93 kg in the Snatch event.
She also won the gold medal in her event at the 2021 African Weightlifting Championships held in Nairobi, Kenya.
Chioma Ajunwa-Opara (born December 25, 1970) is a Nigerian former track and field athlete and football player, notable for becoming the first Nigerian to win gold at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and the first black African woman to win an Olympic gold medal in a field event.
A member of the Nigerian Police Force, Ajunwa remains the only woman to compete at both the FIFA Women’s World Cup as a footballer and the Olympics as a track and field athlete.
In December 2017, Ajunwa launched the Chioma Ajunwa-Okpara Foundation to discover new Nigerian stars in sports. The Foundation, in collaboration with the Abia State government, sponsored an Under-16 Athletics Championship for Secondary Schools in March 2018.
Born into what she describes as “a very poor home”, Ahiazu-Mbaise-native Ajunwa was the last of nine children, with six brothers and two sisters.
Sarah Adegoke (born 1997) is a Nigerian tennis player.
Brought up in Ibadan, Oyo State, Adegoke learnt to play tennis through her father, Adedapo Adegoke, whom she noted was not professionally trained but read sporting articles and magazines to tutor her on the laws of the game.
She began representing Nigeria in 2010, and by 2014 was the highest ranked woman in Nigerian tennis. She describes Serena Williams as her biggest motivation in the game.
Adegoke was the first runner up in the senior women’s category at the 34th edition of the CBN Tennis Open Championship in 2012. She is also one of the few Nigerians to have gotten to the finals of the Governor’s Cup Lagos Tennis, a feat she accomplished in 2014, losing to Zarah Razafimahatra of Madagascar in the last game.
At the 2014 Ikoyi Club Masters Tennis Championship, Adegoke, who was 16 at the time, caused an upset when she defeated the 2013 CBN Tennis Open Championship winner, Ronke Akingbade, in the women’s single final.
In February 2017, she won the Ikoyi Club Masters Tennis Championship. Later in the year, she won the senior women’s single category at the 39th CBN Tennis Open Championship, defeating Marylove Edwards. By December 2017, she defeated rival, Blessing Samuel, 6–3, 6–3 to win the Rainoil Tennis Open at the Lagos Country Club.
In August 2018, she was ranked first and third in the singles and doubles categories according to the Nigeria Tennis Federation.
Miesinnei Mercy Genesis (born September 20, 1997) is a Nigerian freestyle wrestler.
She won a gold medal in the women’s 50 kg event at the 2022 Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham, England. At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, she competed in the Women’s freestyle -48 kg.
In 2019, she won the silver medal in the women’s 50 kg beach wrestling event at the 2019 World Beach Games held in Doha, Qatar.
In 2020, she won the gold medal in the women’s freestyle 50 kg event at the 2020 African Wrestling Championships.
Barakat Oyinlomo Quadre (born May 1, 2003) is a Nigerian tennis player.
She is currently the highest ranked Nigerian in the WTA women’s single category.
In the March 2018 WTA rankings, she was ranked number one in Nigeria, 9th in Africa, and 945 in the world in the women’s singles category.
Quadre has represented Nigeria at the Billie Jean King Cup, making her debut in 2021.
Quadre began playing tennis at age 4. As a junior player, she was ranked 173 on June 17, 2019.
At the 2015 ITF/CAT Junior Championship in Morocco, Quadre established herself as one of Africa’s best junior tennis players, and secured a scholarship to the High Performance Center in Morocco.
At the 2016 ITF U18 Championship, Quadre made it to the quarter-finals. In 2017, she defeated Chakira Dermane of Togo 6-0, 6-0 to set up a quarter final clash with Sophia Biolay of France.
At national level, she was chosen to represent Nigeria at the 2016 Africa Junior Tennis Championship. She won the ITF/CAT U-16 Championship in Togo.
Lauritta Onye, a Paralympic competitor in the throwing events, was born on January 4, 1984. She participated in the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Paralympics and won gold in the F40 shot put. Onye is a professional actress who goes under the name Laury White.
Onye began competing in athletics in 2008, but she didn’t have much of an international impact until the 2012 Para-athletics classification rules were changed. Athletes with low statures were categorized under the F40 rule prior to 2012, which applied to any female participant with a height of under 140 cm. Onye is one of the tallest competitors in her class because the 2012 rules divided the F40 classification into F40 and F41, with F40 now being for female athletes who are 125 cm or lower.
Onye went into the World Championships as one of the favourites, having set a world record distance of 7.59 meters in Tunisia in March early in the year. In Doha, Onye improved on her own record by throwing a distance of 7.72 meters on her first attempt.
Onye represented Nigeria at the 2016 Summer Paralympics, entering the shot put (T40). Onye dominated her field, beating Tunisia’s Rima Abdelli into silver place. On becoming the first T40 athlete to throw over eight meters, Onye reacted excitedly by cartwheeling and dancing in front of the Brazilian crowd. And in 2021, she clinched the Bronze medal in the event.
“Chi-Chi” Igbo (born May 1, 1986) is a retired Danish Nigerian footballer.
The 30-year-old former Super Falcons player, Chichi Igbo, is a Nigerian professional soccer player based in Denmark.
Igbo started her career in 2000 with the FCT Queens of Abuja. In summer 2002, she graduated with her team, the Capital Queens, and entered into a youth tournament in Denmark. Igbo herself was named the best player and moved a year later to Fortuna Hjørring in Denmark.
During the seasons 2008/09 and 2009/10 she with her team Fortuna Hjørring won the Danish title.
She decided to retire in 2016, after 14 years at Fortuna Hjørring, where she played 270 matches and won four league titles and three cup titles.
Francisca Ordega (born October 19, 1993) is a Nigerian professional footballer who plays as a forward for CSKA Moscow in the Russian Women’s Football Championship.
She has represented the Nigeria women’s national football team (Super Falcons) at both the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the African Women’s Championship. She was also nominated for the Best Female African Footballer award.
With the under 17, she played at the 2010 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup and with the under 20 at 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. At senior level, she played in the FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments of 2011, 2015 and 2019. At the latter, she opened her World Cup account by scoring Nigeria’s equalizing goal against Sweden on June 8th, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
She was also part of Nigeria’s squads at the African Women’s Championships in 2010 and 2014, winning both tournaments.
In 2018, she was also a member of the Nigerian squad that won the 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations in Ghana, a tournament where she had two goals and two assists and won the woman of the match award at the final game against South Africa. She was part of the Super Falcons squad that won the 2021 Turkish Women’s Cup in Antalya, Turkey in February, becoming the first African team to win the invitational tournament.
Onome Ebi (born May 8, 1983) is a Nigerian footballer who plays as a center-back for Belarusian Premier League club FC Minsk and the Nigeria women’s national team.
In 2019, she became the first African footballer to play in 5 FIFA World Cup Tournaments, taking part in the 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, and 2019 editions of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Ebi was also a member of the Nigerian squad in the 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2022 editions of the African Women’s Championship, winning the tournament four times (2010, 2014, 2016 and 2018).
In both club and international competitions, Ebi plays as the number five in the team due to the significance it holds for her. When she arrived at Minsk, the jersey number was already taken, so she asked for the number 55 instead.
She currently plays for Chinese second division side Henan Jianye, where she signed in 2018.
Rita Chikwelu (born 6 March 1988) is a Nigerian professional footballer who plays as a forward and a midfielder for the Spanish club Madrid CFF. She previously played for Umeå IK and Kristianstads DFF. She is also a member of the Nigeria women’s national team (The Super Falcons).
From 2006 to 2009, Chikwelu played in Finland for FC United. She was the top scorer of the Finnish women’s league Naisten Liiga in 2009 with 22 goals.
Chikwelu spent seven seasons with Umeå IK from 2010 to 2016, but left upon the club’s relegation and joined Kristianstads DFF on a two-year contract.
Chikwelu participated in the FIFA U-20 World Cup from 2004 to 2008 and made her senior national team debut in 2007 at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. She was a member of the Nigerian Olympic team that participated in the 2008 Summer Olympics in China and was a member of the Nigerian squad in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Tochukwu Oluehi (born May 2, 1987) is a Nigerian footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Israeli First Division club Maccabi Kishronot Hadera and the Nigeria women’s national team.
Oluehi played for Bobruichanka Bobruisk in the 2013–14 UEFA Women’s Champions League. In April 2016, Oluehi and compatriot Cecilia Nku left Rivers Angels to join Norwegian Toppserien club Medkila IL. She played 21 games for Medkila before returning to the Rivers Angels and has been the team captain since 2017.
She also played three times at the FIFA Women’s World Cup and once at the Summer Olympic Games for the Nigeria women’s national football team.
Adaora Nnenna Elonu (born April 28, 1990) is a Nigerian-American professional basketball player and a member of the Nigeria women’s national team. Elonu played college basketball for Texas A&M, with whom she won the 2011 NCAA Championship.
On August 10, 2018, she signed with the WNBA side Atlanta Dream on a seven-day contract.
Elonu moved to Spanish side Uni Girona CB in August, 2019. She won Most Valuable Player (MVP) as Uni Girona, defeated Perfumerías Avenida 82-80 points to lift the Spanish Super Cup at the Fontajau in September, 2019.
She started the 2021–2022 season with Nadezhda Orenburg of the Russian PBL league but left the club following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. Shortly after, she returned to Spain and signed with CB Avenida.
Elonu has played with the Nigeria national team, with whom she achieved the bronze medal in the AfroBasket Women 2015, being elected as part of the tournament’s All-Star Five.
She was part of the Nigerian side that won gold at the Afrobasket 2017 championship in Mali. She averaged the team’s high 3.9 assists per game. She was also one of the tournament’s top ten players.
Elonu emerged as captain of the Nigeria Women’s National Basketball Team on August 10, while the team was camped in Atlanta in preparation for the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup. During the 2018 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup, she averaged 7.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game.
She also participated in the 2021 FIBA women’s Afrobasket basketball tournament in Cameroon as the captain of the team, clinching the title. She was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).
Elizabeth Balogun is a Nigerian basketball player. She plays college basketball for the Louisville Cardinals Women’s Team and the Nigerian National Team.
Balogun started as a freshman at Georgia Tech in 2018. She left the team for the Louisville Cardinals after being named the 2018-19 ACC freshman of the year, having averaged 14.64 points per game in her freshman season.
In her sophomore year at Louisville, she was named preseason All-ACC by coaches and a Blue Ribbon Panel and has also been called to the Citizen Naismith Watch List.
Balogun was called up to represent the D’Tigress and to participate in the 2019 pre Olympic Qualifying tournament in Mozambique, but she was not released by Louisville. She was also called up to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualifiers in Belgrade.
Francisca Ikhiede (born January 17, 1996) is a Nigerian volleyball player who plays for the Nigeria Customs team and the Nigeria women’s national volleyball team.
Ikhiede was born in Kaduna in 1996. She has played for the Nigeria Customs Service volleyball team.
Ikhiede plays on the beach volleyball “B” team for the Nigeria women’s national volleyball team. At the beginning of 2019 she was in Yaoundé in Cameroon where she and Tochukwu Nnourge won the gold medal at the Camtel International Beach Volleyball Championship. They won the final match despite the cheers of the crowd as their opposition was the Cameroon team.