By Yemi Babalola Lagos, Nigeria.
Perpetua Ijeoma Nkwocha, is a Nigerian female professional footballer born on January 3, 1976.
Perpetua started playing football on the streets of Lagos as a kid, rubbing shoulders with boys of her peer group. Many football analysts has described Nkwocha as possessing the combined skills of Austin Jay-jay Okocha and the ball intelligence of Nwankwo Kanu, two of Nigeria’s great football stars. She is one player Super Falcons found so difficult to let go. In spite of her desire to retire, she was often called back to duty again and again.
Nkwocha’s national team career spanned for over a decade and half. Nkwocha cap 32 times for Falcons and scored 28 goals. She also cap 54 times for her Swedish team and scored 32 goals.
Perpetua has participated in seven CAF Women’s Championship editions which includes Nigeria 2002, South Africa 2004, Nigeria 2006, Equatorial Guinea 2008, South Africa 2010, Equatorial Guinea 2012 and Namibia 2014, winning five of them (2002, 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2014).
At the 2004 African Women’s Championship, she scored four goals in the final against Cameroon to help Nigeria win the title. She also set a record by scoring nine overall goals during the tournament, and was named the best player of the tournament.
Nkwocha was voted African Women’s Footballer of the Year in 2004, 2005, 2010 and 2011 by Confederation of African Football (CAF). Nkwocha has also participated in four FIFA Women’s World Cup (2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015), as well as the Olympic tournaments of Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, and Beijing 2008.
Nkwocha won Africa Women footballer of the year 4 times in 2004, 2005, 2010 and 2011. She also won MVP award in CAF’s African women championship in 2002, 2004 and 2006. She is indeed the most decorated woman footballer in Africa.
At the peak of her career in 2004, Nkwocha became the only African woman to be ever listed in FIFA – XI – bringing the continent’s women football to reckoning for the first time. In that same year, she set a record, scoring 9 goals in African Women Football Championship. She won both the Most Valuable Player (MVP) and the Highest Goal Scorer (HGS) award at the championship.
No one who saw that game will ever forget how Nkwocha stunned everyone, scoring 4 goals against Cameroon. It was such an extra-ordinary performance that even caught the interest of the Swedish team – Damailsvenskn club Sunnana SK. Then, she became the first African woman footballer to sign a real professional contract worth over $500, 000.
Perpetua played for Swedish side Sunnanå SK in both the top division (Damallsvenskan) and the second division (Elitettan) leagues from 2007 until 2014.
Perpetua Nkwocha, got married on Monday, 28 March 2016, to Ernest Ikechukwu Nwufoh. Perpetua is currently an assistant coach to Florence Omagbemi and they are managing the female senior national team known as the Super Falcons of Nigeria.