‘I know I’m stereotyped’: Fatuga-Dada hopes for a change of perception toward African players

The Women’s World Cup showcased the best talent in football and highlighted how far the game has come. Although, it did bring to the surface a lack of analysis and research pertaining to African players and teams.

Adekite Fatuga-Dada — who joined MK Dons from Watford over the summer — was ‘very proud’ to see what Nigeria achieved down under. But she wants more people to realise that African and black athletes offer more than just power and pace.

Fatuga-Dada believes she has been stereotyped throughout her career — which has been at Watford up until this season — as just ‘a quick player’ but she knows that she is also technically gifted.

Adekite Fatuga-Dada admits she is stereotyped

While it was amazing to see nations such as Nigeria and Colombia do fantastic and run England the whole way, and a more diverse set of pundits appear on our screen — such as Alex Scott, Eni Aluko, Ian Wright and Seema Jaswal — much more needs to be done.

Far too often, the first time an African player performed well or was spoken about on air, people have highlighted highlight their speed or strength, despite many of them being some of the best players in the world. It is something Adekite Fatuga-Dada knows far too well.

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“Football is a massive thing in Nigeria,” the MK Dons star told Her Football Hub. “You’ve got Jay-Jay Okocha, Kanu and all these players who’ve come from Nigeria. They weren’t just about physicality. They were very good technically. I think it’s one of those things. In football, you can get stereotyped.

“For me, I know I’m stereotyped as just a quick player. But I know I’m quite good with my feet.”

Why are African players looked at differently?

Ashleigh Plumptre, who starred for Nigeria at the World Cup, spoke passionately about this issue and urged for immediate change.

“After this game, I’m tired of people just saying African teams are just strong and they’re just fast and count us out as being technical or tactical,” she said.

Nigeria boast one of the best strikers on the planet in the form of Barcelona’s Asisat Oshoala, and you don’t become a permanent fixture for the Catalonian giants by just being ‘strong’ and ‘fast.’

It’s certainly an old and archaic view from pundits, commentators and people on social media when they speak about African players and countries. But there is hope for change.

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Is there hope for change in the future?

Despite what many people say about Nigeria and other African countries, Fatuga-Dada holds immense pride. She believes there could soon be a change in attitude.

“I’ve always said Nigeria are such an underrated country in terms of footballing success, so it wasn’t so much of a surprise to me.

“They’ve got some amazing players across the globe in terms of club football. It was great to watch, and I was very proud to see some of my friends playing in that.

“It’s just one of those things, and over time, they will start to show. And I think they have already started to show with that tournament just gone that they can play football and be physical.”

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