Rasheedat Ajibade: A Dream Come True

For an average Nigerian player, his or her dream is to one day leave the shores of the country and join the big leagues in Europe and for Falcons star, Rasheedat Ajibade, it was a dream come true as she put pen to paper for Norwegian side Avaldsnes on a two-year deal

In spite of the Super Falconets of Nigeria not going past the quarter-final stage at the 2018 FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup in France, Rasheedat Ajibade was one of the shining lights in the Nigerian team and it did not come as a surprise as she was named in the Nigerian team to the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations where she won the tournament alongside her teammates.

Late last year, Ajibade made a shocking revelation as she left FC Robo after penning a farewell message to the club as she brought an end to her nine-year career at the NWPFL club. The 18-year-old who recently signed for Norwegian side Avaldsnes on a two-year deal, is one of many expected to leave FC Robo before the new league season.

Last Sunday, the young forward tweeted: “Every story, every adventure has and must have an ending. My story and journey with FC Robo Queens have come to an end. It’s been an extraordinary nine years journey….. am indeed very grateful to God.”

Continuing she said: “From my heart, I want to appreciate all at FC Robo Queens, especially my fatherly head coach Emmanuel Osahon, who tremendously developed me to who I’ve become. Thanks for everything. I promise that you’ll forever be in my heart. In my soul, I will forever be a Robo Queens player. And to everyone that contributed to my progress so far and made this dream come true, thank you all, God bless you and answer your secret prayer.”

During her time with Robo, the forward earned invitations to the National U-17, U-20 and senior women’s national team and won the 2018 CAF Africa Women’s Cup of Nations.

Having finished ninth in the Toposerien log last season, coach Lena Tyriberget bolstered her squad with the highly rated 19-year-old versatile forward’s signing ahead of the 2018-19 season.

“When you look at her age and her merits – been central to the U-20 team and the senior national team, most recently in the Africa championship that Nigeria and Rasheedat won. You realise thatRasheedat is a very promising Nigerian national team player. As a player type, she is typically either number 8 or 10 on the pitch,” said club’s coach Lena Tyriberget last Wednesday.

“She is good with the ball, is forward-looking in the game and has a good drive. She is a player for the future. We look forward to having Rasheedat with us for the next two years.”

The new league season starts in March and Ajibade will be focused on settling in her new surroundings.

The Nigerian international said, “it’s a dream come true” for her after joining Avaldsnes. The 19-year-old was handed a two-year contract in Norway after ending a nine-year stay with FC Robo Queens.

Her move came on the heels of her title-winning debut at the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations in Ghana as she scored once in four appearances for the Super Falcons.

“I am grateful to God and it feels like a dream come true,” Ajibade told Goal.

“I’ve been so excited since I secured my deal, being it’s my first professional contract. Before going to Ghana (for the Africa Women Cup of Nations), I had told myself that I have to go there to fight for my place and prove my worth to everyone.

“I also vowed that I will not leave Robo Queens to any other club in Nigeria, but work hard for a good offer abroad comes for me. It’s definitely going to be a stepping stone because it won’t end there as it’s another journey for me.

“I think playing for Avaldsnes and being introduced to the European style of play in my game will polish my skills and improve my personality. I just have to go there and perform better, gain more experience than what I’ve had already.

“I believe the club will help me improve and also challenge for my place in the Super Falcons ahead of the next year’s Women’s World Cup. With God and my performance, I promise to help my club succeed in Norway and make the Nigeria squad to France.”

Ajibade further issued an emotional farewell message to her childhood club, FC Robo Queens, and coach Emmanuel Osahon while pledging to remain a good ambassador of the club.

“I wish to appreciate everyone at FC Robo Queens for how far and much they have contributed to my development and career success so far.”

“I love them and will miss everyone at the club. I want them to know that any day and anytime, I still remain at Robo Queen and will always represent them well anywhere I find myself and will do my best to give back to the club.

“To the upcoming players at Robo, if it can happen to me, I believe everyone can have the same opportunity of going far and wide. I will urge them to keep working hard and doing their best.

“I also want to thank coach Osahon. He has been the backbone of every success I’ve achieved today and has tolerated and persevered with me. I am very grateful to him,” Ajibade said.

Avaldsnes manager Tyriberget believe they have snapped up one of Africa’s most promising young talents ahead of the 2019 Toposerien season which starts in March.

Born December 8, 1999, Ajibade has represented Nigeria at U-17, U-20 and the senior national team. She has been playing for FC Robo since the 2013 Nigeria Women Premier League season. In 2014, she was listed as one of the best young talents in the league and in September 2018, she won the Nigerian women football freestyle competition for the second consecutive time.

During the 2015 NWPL Week 2 games, Ajibade was listed in the team of the week, compiled by Soccerladuma South Africa, despite her team losing to Confluence Queens during the round of matches.

Ajibade won the first edition of Nigeria National Freestyle Championship, which is a competition to promote freestyling football and in 2017, despite Robo not being among teams that finished tops, Ajibade was voted Player of the Season after scoring eight goals to save her team from relegation.

In 2018, she was nominated as the Best Player in the 2017 NWPL at Nigeria Pitch Awards.

Ajibade scored once as Nigeria won a ninth title at the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations in Ghana and was a joint-top scorer with 10 goals as the Falconets qualified for the Under-20 World Cup this year and also helped the senior B Team to a third-place finish at the 2018 West Africa Football Union title.

She is regarded as one of the best female freestyle footballers in Nigeria after winning the competition back-to-back in September.

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