By Monsurah Olatunji
Nigeria legend Perpetua Nkwocha is not the hurrying type to marry like most young ladies are eager to especially while building her career.
The former Super Falcons star waited until she was 40 to tie the knots but insists she has no regrets about her decision not to marry early despite pressures from the society.
As far as legends go, Nkwocha is as big as they come in women’s football in Africa. Now 44, the record four-time African Women’s Player of the Year enjoyed a stellar career, winning multiple titles and individual awards and five African Women’s Cup of Nations titles.
Nkwocha, who spent the past decade living in Sweden where she currently serves as a coach, and even as a referee, eventually got married to her long time admirer, Ernest Ikechukwu Nwufoh, in Owerri on March 28, 2016.
In this revealing interview with SavidNews’ correspondent Monsurah Olatunji, Nkwocha, who serves as coach of Clemensnäs IF in Sweden gives reasons for her choice to marry after her retirement from football and her experience after four years in marriage.
Monsurah Olatunji: Congratulations on the journey so far and cheers to many to come.
Perpetua Nkwocha-Nwufuh: Thank you (smiles), Monsurah.
MO: Why did you choose to marry after retirement?
PNN: This is a very interesting question (laugh).
First of all, marriage can happen at any time or stage in someone’s life and I am not different from that.
It is also important to note that one gets to marry when love and the right partner comes along especially since one cannot marry himself or herself.
Having said the above, let me say it here that I was extremely committed to my football career during my playing days. This meant that, despite having a whole lot of admirers then, I regarded and respected them as my ‘fans’ and never really thought of marriage then.
Finally, I am very happy getting married when I did also because I married a man that I have known for most of my football career who patiently waited and stood by me.
MO; Would marrying early have stopped you from playing longer than you did?
PNN: There is no straight yes or no here. However, marriage has a lot of responsibilities attached. Getting married early has a lot of implications depending on a lot of circumstances. Let us say I got married while playing and my husband decided to raise children immediately, that would have obvious implications on my football playing career. It definitely would have been very noticeable.
MO: Do you to be in any love relationship during your playing days?
PNN: I have said it earlier that I had a lot of followers and admirers (fans) during my active playing days. I, of course, had a boyfriend. It is important to mention here that I was very much focused on my career.
MO: How has football affected your love life during those years?
PNN: Football, just like any other sports, is a career that is so demanding both of your time and your physical presence. As a footballer, you are totally dedicated and consumed with the desire to succeed. That happened to me.
I did not have time for deep relationships. I had a lot of friends and serious admirers but never really considered marriage at that time. It wasn’t like I planned not to (giggles). It just wasn’t my focus then.
So even without thinking about it, my personal life was affected because of my complete focus and concentration on my football career.”
MO: What do you think turned-off men from female players? Could it be the fame or money or time or the tom-boy dressing?
“Well it is wrong to say that men are turned off female footballers. That is a very wrong notion. Female footballers are fit and trendy and very physically attractive. Football is very demanding and time is often the problem as these players move from place to place, city to city. Their mobility, more than anything else is a very big obstacle.”
MO: If you can turn back the hand of time, would you prefer to marry early while actively playing or marry late after retirement?
PNN: Turning back the hand time? (it is funny)
Firstly, no one turns back the clock. The clocks tick forward and can never go backward.
Secondly, I lived my career days to the fullest and achieved my set goals. I crave nothing from the past and I regret nothing from the past either. If I have to do it again, believe me, I will be the same Pepertua Nkwocha.
MO: As a wife and football legend, what would be your #LoveAndFootball advice to the younger ones?
PNN: I tell them to be open to love but also be very committed and dedicated to their career. Give their all while they still can.