Super Falcons striker Cynthia Uwak is not one to hide her feelings over the ill-treatment of women footballers in Nigeria. The two-time African Women’s Player of the Year talked about how Nigerians unjustly label female footballers lesbians in this interview with ‘TANA AIYEJINA
- How do you feel when women footballers are termed lesbians because of the way they look?
I wouldn’t say football makes people masculine. There are lots of players you wouldn’t even know play football. I have a lot of friends who are tomboys but they don’t play football and they look masculine; like they are into sports. People jump into conclusions because they see you dressed this way.
People’s mentality is different. There are a lot of the players who wear make-up and dress feminine. I don’t like to wear make-up and that doesn’t mean it’s because I play football. Before I started playing football, I was a tomboy climbing trees and playing with boys.
But these people are so blinded; they look at one side and don’t see the other side of the world. It’s not only women footballers who are like that; there are a lot of them out there who don’t do sports.
I wouldn’t judge someone based on their looks or what they wear. It’s not my business to be concerned about another person’s personal life because that won’t put food on my table. If you go to boarding schools, they still say this thing (l3sbianism) exists. Does it mean these people play football?
- There is this impression that women footballers who move in twos are usually lesbians…
There is freedom of speech and you can’t tell people what they should or should not say. Labelling people just because they are friends is not right. Have you caught them practice l3sbianism? This thing happens and it’s not like it’s new.
If you play for the Falcons, then your mentality should be different. You don’t dwell on such things; I don’t allow irrelevant issues affect me because what they say won’t stop me from where I’m going. It’s a mental thing and you just have to expect people to keep talking.
The energy they use in labelling female footballers lesbians, if they use it well, it will add value to women’s football. But people would rather criticise you than try to build and lift you up. I don’t let what anybody say affect me. If you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks, you will never get to your destination. You can’t change the discrimination. Majority of these people, if they ask you out and you don’t accept, they jump into conclusion and start to cook up stories.
- What’s your assessment of the women’s game in Nigeria?
I’m disappointed at the league and the bad pitches; players are also owed salaries. Women football has grown past this level but I’m shocked that it’s almost in the same state it was when I was here. It means nothing’s been done.