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Football: ‘I Had To Strip Naked To Prove I’m A Woman’

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Genoveva Anonma
was used to the insults. For years, she had shrugged off the suspicions, ignored the accusations.
But what she was not prepared for was the degrading ordeal that followed her starring performance for Equatorial Guinea in the 2008 African Women’s Championship.
Scorer of the winning goal on home soil as her country became the first team other than Nigeria to win the tournament, Anonma should have been savouring the realisation of a dream. Instead she was plunged into a personal nightmare.
As her energetic and powerful performances prompted rival teams to accuse her of being a man, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) chose the crudest of methods to establish Anonma’s gender.
“They asked me to take all my clothes off in front of officials from CAF and the Equatorial Guinea team,” she recalls.
“I was really upset, my morale was low and I was crying. It was totally humiliating, but over time I have got over it.”
Overcoming adversity was nothing new to this most resilient of individuals.
Growing up in Equatorial Guinea – where the 2015 men’s Africa Cup of Nations is holding off on  her desire to become a footballer made her an outcast at school, and indeed at home.
“When I was five years old in my village the girls didn’t accept me because I just wanted to play football, so I always used to play with the boys,” says Anonma.
“My dad was living in another city with another woman and my mum didn’t want me to have anything to do with football. She wanted me to study for a Masters, become a teacher, or help children.
“I had some serious problems with her. She told me she didn’t want to see me again.
“Eventually, I went to live with my uncle. He took me to the city so I could carry on studying and playing football.”
Anonma was signed by her local team in the capital city, Malabo, when she was 15 in 2002. After a year in South Africa with Mamelodi Sundowns, she joined FC Jena in the German Bundesliga, where she was the team’s top scorer for two seasons in a row.
However, after Equatorial Guinea’s run to the final of the 2010 African Championship they booked their place at the 2011 Women’s World Cup, and she became embroiled in an all-too-familiar scandal.
Winners Nigeria, along with South Africa and Ghana, accused Guinea of having three men in their team: sisters Salimata and Bilguisa Simpore, as well as the team’s captain, Anonma.
“You only need to have physical contact with them on the pitch to know this [that they are men],” said Ghana defender Diana Amkomah at the time.
As the story made headlines around the world, Anonma faced up to the media to refute the allegations.
“These accusations come because I am fast and strong, but I know that I am definitely a woman,” she said at the time.
Unfulfilled wish
As the row rumbled on into the build-up to the World Cup, Equatorial Guinea sought to defuse the controversy by dropping the Simpore sisters from their squad, although it was never stated that their omission related to gender. And the allegations were never proven.
Anonma, meanwhile, kept her place and scored Equatorial Guinea’s only two goals at the tournament.
To this day, Anonma’s biggest frustration remains that she has never been permitted to undergo medical gender testing in the expectation of silencing her doubters once and for all.
Gender testing in sport
Gender testing is a highly controversial area of scientific debate. There is no perfect method to categorically determine whether someone is a man, a woman or, as is perfectly possible, something in between.
Over the years, sport has tried chromosome testing, individual gene testing and hair testing but all of these techniques carry flaws.
The most high profile case in recent years was that of Caster Semenya. She won the women’s 800m gold for South Africa at the World Athletics Championships in 2009 but was then subjected to an investigation into her gender. She was cleared to compete again in 2010, although the results of her tests were never made public.
“I was hoping they would call me to tell me they were taking me to hospital to do tests, but they never did,” she says.
“They did nothing to me. It was just down to me alone to defend myself, to state that I am not a man, I am a woman.”
A woman good enough to be named African Women’s Footballer of the Year after her goals inspired Equatorial Guinea to their second African Championship in 2012.
And a woman good enough to line up in Germany for Turbine Potsdam, the six-time Bundesliga champions and two-time winners of the European Champions League.
“I think Germany is the best league in Europe,” she says. “There are lots of internationals and big-game players.
“But on a personal level, it’s not easy when you don’t speak German very well. You can’t have many friends or talk to people well.”
Future ambitions
If Anonma hints at homesickness, she is not yet ready to return to Equatorial Guinea, where she is feted as a hero whenever she walks the streets.
Instead, she’s weighing up offers to play in France or Sweden, two other established hubs for women’s football.
Despite the tribulations of her turbulent career, Anonma remains a player at the summit of her powers.

Sheringham writes for BBC Sport

 
Sam Sheringham

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Ilechukwu Set To Make History With Plateau United

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Plateau United coach, Fidelis Ilechukwu, says his side is all set for the start of 2021/22 Nigeria Professional Football League season and he hopes to make history with the club.
The season’s resumption date which has been fixed for December 17, is set to be ratified by the league management company on December 7 at its general assembly in Abuja.
According to the fixtures released and made available to Tidesports source, Plateau United is billed to face newcomers Niger Tornadoes away from home.
Tidesports source reports that Ilechukwu, who joined the team during the transfer window from Heartland FC would be hoping to start the season in an impressive fashion.
“We are prepared, the players are doing fine and we can’t wait for the season,” Ilechukwu said.
“The players are well motivated and all they want to do is go out there and give their all.”
Other matchday one fixtures to be played across the federation will see champions, Akwa United, tackle Kano Pillars, Enyimba slugs it out with Abia Warriors in a derby, Lobi Stars will entertain Rivers United while there will be a battle of newcomers between Gombe United and Shooting Stars.
Enugu Rangers will travel to face Katsina United in their season’s opener. Sunshine Stars play Wikki Tourists, Kwara United vs Dakkada, Heartland vs Nasarawa United, while there’ll be an early Southwest derby between MFM FC and Remo Stars in Lagos.

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ph City Marathon: Athletes, Collect Participation Number Morrow

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The Chief Organiser of Port Harcourt City Marathon, Goodluck Azunwena, has expressed satisfaction over the reactions of people and number of athletes that registered for the competition.
He revealed that collection of athlete’s participation number  would take place tomorrow, at Las Mall, Rumukalagbor, in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area.
Azunwena said this in a telephone interview with Tidesports, yesterday, saying that the basic aim is to engage the youth meaningfully and change the negative perception of the State.
According to him, “Port Harcourt to the World,” the organization that is organising competition had organised other events that have positive impact on the people, particularly in 2018, they organized what was called Music Ran Port Harcourt.
“This organization was established in 2016 with the sole aim to promote the city positively and encourage people to change the negative perception of the city in and outside the state.
So far I am impressed with people’s reactions towards the competition and  number of athletes that registered for the event,” Azunwena said.
Meanwhile, the 16 kilo meter race is scheduled to take place next Saturday in Port Harcourt, the winner of the competition will go home with N1 million, as second and third positionswill cart away N500,000 and N250, 000, respectively.
While fourth to ten position will have consolation prize of N50,000 each.

By: Tonye Orabere

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Nnadozie’s Rating As World’s Seventh Best  Thrills  Izilien

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Former Coach of Super Falcons, Godwin Izilien, has described Chiamaka Nnadozie’s ranking as the world’s seventh best woman goalkeeper as a clear indication that Nigeria has abundant talented female footballers at the grassroots waiting to be discovered.
Izilien, who commended the Paris of France FC goaltender for putting Nigeria on the world map in women football, urged stakeholders in the ladies’ game to pay more attention to talent discovery, stressing that discovering and nurturing women players when they are still young will raise the country’s standard in the game.
“I am delighted on the news that Nnadozie has been rated the seventh best goalkeeper in the world. This is a remarkable achievement for the young lady, who started her football career in Nigeria.
“She played for the cadet teams and Nigerian clubs before moving abroad. I have said it before that Nigeria has talents in women football… all they need is to be discovered and exposed.
“Nnadozie’s achievement is a clear testimony that a player can be discovered in Nigeria and be among the best in the world when given the right exposure. Football stakeholders should leverage her achievements to look more to grassroots football development.
“Getting young talents from the grassroots remains the direction to develop women’s football in Nigeria,” he said.
Tidesports source reports that Nnadozie was selected among the best in the goalkeeping position by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS).
The rankings of the women goalkeepers were for an aggregate of 2021 taking into consideration performances for their club and country.
The ex Rivers Angels goalkeeper, who made her debut for Nigeria at the Jordan U-17 Women’s World Cup also in 2019, became the youngest goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet at the Women’s World Cup.
Nnadozie also helped Nigeria to win gold medal at the African Games in Morocco, saving three penalties in the shootout against Cameroun.

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