Nigeria’s international female striker, Desire Oparanozie has garnered experiences in female football from being a local player in Owerri, to an international of repute. She has played in Russia, Turkey and currently plies her trade with a German team, VFL Wolfburg. Oparanozie spoke with our Sport Correspondent, Gracious Akujobi. Below are excerpts:
Prompt News: You have come a long way from the young/small girl playing football in Owerri, and now playing in Germany, how does this transition make you feel?
Oparanozie: Great I must say. I feel happy because I can see my dream of being a professional footballer being fulfilled.
Prompt News: You have played in Turkey, Russia and now Germany, what will you say are the challenges in these countries you have played?
Oparanozie: The challenge of having to play in a country far away from home, having to meet different people, culture, religion, food and language. But, the most challenging part is playing under different coaches, each with his or her own tactics and that for me has been tough and challenging.
Prompt News: In Russia, you played for the first time in UEFA women champions’ league with Rossiyanka FC, now you are also playing champions’ league football with your German club. Tell me the difference in style of play, challenges and opportunities?
Oparanozie : The playing style of Russia and Germany are not similar, it is really different. There are a lot of challenges here in Germany and the opportunities are slim. But I must say playing in the champions league has been one of my proud moments and it gives me joy each time I have opportunity to play in it.
Prompt News: How has going to play in Europe improved your overall play?
Oparanozie : Playing in Europe has added a whole lot of positives in my career. I have become a better player all round. I don’t think I could have improved this much if I remained in Nigeria.
Prompt News: I see you are the only black player in your team so far, have you experienced any form of racism playing in Europe?
Oparanozie : Yes, but it not all the time. I am focused on my career and would not want that to disturb me.
Prompt News: Is playing football financially rewarding for female footballers?
Oparanozie : In as much as we cannot compare what female players earn to their male counterparts, I will say yes, it has been good and rewarding for me.
Prompt News: So, how much does Oparanozie earn right now?
Oparanozie : I would not want to disclose what I earn on the web or publicly because it is strictly confidential. But like I said earlier, it is not compared to the huge some the men earn.
Prompt News: You have been part of the female national team set-up for some time now; can you let us through your first experience as a junior international up to this moment?
Oparanozie : The experience has been wonderful. I really cannot explain it word for worth it’s really been worthwhile. Playing for your national team is one of the best things that can happen to a player.
Prompt News: You were not part of the Super Falcons team to the last AWC where the team did not do well. How did you feel about Super Falcons last outing where they could not even come third place?
Oparanozie : I felt really bad. Every Nigerian who has the interest of the Nation at heart and loves female football should feel bad at Falcons outing at the last AWC. Not being part of the team was another horrible experience for me.
Prompt News: Super Falcons have qualified for the next round of AWC due to Sierra Leone’s withdrawal. Falcons play either Kenya or Rwanda to qualify for AWC; do you see any of these two teams as obstacle to Falcons?
Oparanozie : Probably Sierra Leone felt Falcons will humiliate them just like our U-20 beat their U-20 team. Well, they have only freely gifted us the second round ticket. No, I do not see any team as obstacle to Falcons.
Prompt News: Do you think Super Falcons will bounce back to dominating African football like they used to do?
Oparanozie : Yes, I strongly believe they will. The team is at a rebuilding stage right now and I believe it will come good.
Prompt News: You were not part of the team to the last AWC because your club then Rossiyanka did not allow you to join the team, will this happen again knowing that AWC comes up October 2014, in Namibia?
Oparanozie : I am in a different team now so I pray and hope it does not happen again. I totally regret not being part of that AWC team to contribute my part.
Prompt News: Have we seen the best of Desire football wise or is her best yet to come?
Oparanozie : My best is yet to come. I am not there yet, I have goals and targets which I have set for myself to achieve.
Prompt News: Targets like?
Oparanozie : Helping my country do well at the world stage, winning trophies with my club and being named the best female for Africa and the world (Laughs)
Prompt News: How does Desire unwind?
Oparanozie : I unwind by surfing the net, playing games on the net, watching movies and of course, listening to music.
Prompt News: Can you let your fans into your private world; is Desire in any serious relationship?
Oparanozie : I am sorry but I think I want to keep that part of my life private for now. When the time comes my fans will get to know all that is to know.
Prompt News: What are your personal and team target in your career for both club and country for 2014?
Oparanozie: To always perform at the highest level of my potential, winning every game, scoring goals and heading home with all the available trophies and medals. Does that sound greedy? (Laughs)
Prompt News: What message do you have for your fans?
Oparanozie : I want to thank them for being there for me all these years. I want to tell them I will not let them down; I am working really hard to put smiles on their faces. They are the best and I love them all.