In a candid and eye-opening interview, Favour Kalu, the 18-year-old versatile midfielder of Athlético FC d’Abidjan, has shed light on the trials and tribulations she has faced throughout her football journey. From on-pitch challenges to unsettling off-field encounters, Kalu’s story is one of determination, resilience, and an unwavering faith in her dreams.
Kalu recently played a pivotal role in helping Ivorian champions Athletico secure a remarkable third-place finish in the WAFU qualifiers for the CAF Champions League. When asked about her feelings regarding this achievement, she responded with gratitude and humility. “I’ll start by saying God’s the greatest,” she began. “I’m so excited that I’ve finally become a CAF player because it is a dream come true for me.”
However, Kalu’s journey to success has not been without its difficulties, particularly as she relocated to Ivory Coast. When questioned about the challenges of adapting to a new language, cuisine, and environment, she candidly admitted, “About that, it hasn’t been easy for me at all, but I’m a strong girl and I’ve come to terms with it, that it’s part of life and hustling. So, I have no choice than to cope in every way I can.”
Communication with her teammates in Abidjan, she revealed, often involves hand gestures and some basic French, illustrating the determination that has brought her this far.
Kalu’s journey into football was not initially supported by her parents. “At first, it wasn’t easy at all, but later on, they gave their support because it was obvious that I wasn’t going to stop playing football for anything,” she explained. “So, they gave up and decided to support me in every way they could.”
When asked about her love for football, Kalu couldn’t pinpoint exactly when it began but emphasized that it had been a passion since childhood. She attributed her success to both her love for the sport and the gift of playing it.
Yet, her path was far from smooth. Kalu faced numerous challenges, especially during her early years in football. “Sometimes, guys harassed me, wanting to sleep with me before they helped me or do anything for me,” she admitted. “Most times coaches and teammates would want to take advantage of me because, to them, I’m too beautiful to be a footballer, but thank God for where I am today.”
When asked about the shocking revelation that coaches, both male and female, had made advances toward her, Kalu affirmed it. “Yeah, both male and female coaches back then, even till now, but I won’t call names,” she stated. “It wasn’t easy at all, but God helped me through those times and till now He’s still helping me.”
Reflecting on her best and worst moments in her football career, Kalu mentioned that being dropped from Bayelsa Queens shortly before the CAF Champions League qualifiers was a low point. However, her best moment came when she participated in and won a third-place medal in the Women’s CAF Champions League qualifiers, marking a significant milestone in her career.
Addressing a common stereotype, Kalu agreed that there’s a perception that many women footballers are lesbians. She expressed that some individuals may use external factors as excuses for their choices, but she stressed that these are ultimately personal decisions.
Regarding the perception of female footballers in society, Kalu noted a positive shift toward recognizing their talent, but also acknowledged that biases still exist, especially in her home country of Nigeria.
She pointed out the disparities in support between male and female footballers and the unique challenges faced by women, such as access to menstrual products and the persistent issue of harassment by male coaches and players.
With her eyes set on Europe, Kalu hopes to play there soon. She credits her talent, hard work, and faith in God as driving forces behind her ambition. When asked about the possibility of joining the Nigerian Women’s National Team, the Falcons, she remained optimistic, stating that she has the talent and determination to make it happen.
Lastly, when questioned about representing Ivory Coast if given the opportunity, Kalu firmly declined, expressing her desire to play for France if the chance arose.
In conclusion, Favour Kalu’s story is one of overcoming adversity and pursuing her passion with unwavering determination. Her revelations shed light on some of the challenges that female footballers face in their pursuit of excellence, and her story serves as an inspiration to aspiring athletes everywhere.
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