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Super Falcons’ star, Michelle Alozie  balancing cancer research and football

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Michelle Alozie in last Friday's match against Canada

Super Falcons defender Michelle Alozie talks to FIFA about her dual passions of medicine and football

Being a professional athlete is tough. It involves long days, large amounts of travel, and the physical toll that comes with pushing your body to the limit.

Strenuous, too, is medical research. Spending long hours poring over papers. Conducting countless trials that may or may not yield useful results. Keeping up-to-date with the ever-changing world of medicine.

Now imagine doing both.

That is the reality for Super Falcons defender Michelle Alozie, who spends her morning training with Houston Dash in the NWSL and her afternoons at Texas Children’s Hospital as a research technician studying acute leukemia and cancer.

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“I’ll probably be done with training around 1pm,” she explained to FIFA. “I’ll head straight to the children’s hospital, get there around 1.30pm, probably have our team meetings, and then just go about my day until about 5pm.”

 

A dual passion

Alozie’s genuine love of both football and medicine shone throughout the interview. Passion is the reason that she is able to sustain two careers at once.

“It’s crazy to think about,” she explained. “It’s not necessarily a field that I thought I was going to find myself in but it is so amazing to be able to have an impact on children’s lives. Childhood cancer isn’t something that’s researched that much. Being able to be a part of that and be a part of that research is just such a blessing.

“I have a passion for helping people. Thankfully biology was something that I was really good at in school and so medicine just seemed like the correct option there. Again, it’s just amazing to meet these young kids that I’m helping find a cure for their cancer. It means everything to me.”

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The defender explained that she was born to play football, but grew to love medicine.

“I have been playing soccer since I was four or something like that and, being Nigerian, soccer, or football, is really just in our blood,” she said, smiling. “But I just have this fascination with medicine and I know it’s a career path that I would love to be in when I can’t run on the field anymore.”

Balancing act

Needing to find time for more than one career is a situation familiar to so many female athletes. Doubt does creep in on occasion for Alozie, but she never forgets her ‘why.’

“I think sometimes I might feel like I’m not doing enough for either soccer or in my research lab,” she reflected, “but I think I’m overall just really grateful. I know that it’s two of my passions and what makes it really worthwhile is that I just love doing both of them. So being able to do them simultaneously, thankfully with both of my jobs, it’s amazing and really just a blessing to be able to live my passion and my childhood dream.”

Of course, it has not always been easy for the Nigerian international, who is determined not to let down her coaches or Dr Alex, her boss at Texas Children’s Hospital.

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“I think at first it was definitely a little bit difficult to balance the two,” she admitted. “But honestly, just growing up being an athlete, we learn to balance pretty young in life. It was kind of easy after a while.”

Will there come a point where the defender has to choose?

“In the next few years I’m not really sure – the role isn’t something you’re in for a long time – but I just know that I want to be in medicine and continue that career once I’m done with my soccer career.”

Don’t call me doctor!

Michelle Alozie obtained a Bachelors Degree in Molecular Biology from Yale University. Her degree has given her the skills to conduct her work as a researcher, but it doesn’t give her the right to be called a doctor… yet.

Not that it stops her team-mates from coming to her with their medical issues.

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“I feel like any time something happens, if there’s a little injury, if someone gets knocked, if their stomach hurts, they come to me!” she laughed. “I’m like, ‘Guys, I’m not a doctor, I actually don’t know what’s going on internally with you!’”

That doesn’t mean that studying medicine and obtaining the title of doctor is off the table. On the contrary, it is very much in her long-term plans.

“I’m definitely going to play soccer until I literally cannot run anymore! I know medical school will always be there and it will definitely be there when my bones are brittle,” she grinned.

“Hopefully in a few years they can actually call me Dr Alozie. But now I just need to be Michelle.”

-FIFA

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

CAF Women’s Champions League Qualifiers draw holds on Wednesday

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The 2024-2025 women’s interclub football season will officially kick off on Wednesday, 24 July, with the draw for the CAF Women’s Champions League qualifiers in 4 zones: UNAF, UNIFFAC, WAFU B and CECAFA.

The draw will be conducted at 10:00 GMTat the CAF Headquarters in Egypt and live-streamed on CAF TV and CAFOnline.com. 

Below are the teams entered by zone and the dates of the qualifying tournaments:

WAFU B (10 – 23 August): Ainonvi FC (Benin), Hasaacas Ladies (Ghana), Inter d’Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), AO Étincelles OU USFA (Burkina Faso), AS Garde Nationale (Niger), Edo Queens (Nigeria), ASKO de Kara (Togo).

UNAF (21 – 31 August): CF Akbou (Algeria), Tutankhamun (Egypt), AS Far (Morocco), ASF Sousse (Tunisia)

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CECAFA (17 August – 4 September): PVP Buyenzi (Burundi), FAD (Djibouti), CBE FC (Ethiopia), Kenya Police Bullets (Kenya), Kawempe Muslim (Uganda), Rayon Sports (Rwanda), Yei Joint Stars (South Sudan), Simba Queens (Tanzania), Warriors Queens (Zanzibar)

UNIFFAC (16 – 24 August): Lekié FF (Cameroon), TP Mazembe (DR Congo), Atlético de Malabo (Equatorial Guinea), CSM Diables Noirs (Congo)

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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Colombia 2024: Danjuma invites 32 as countdown begins to Final Tournament

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Flying Eagles, Falconets To Resume Camp On Thursday -

With just eight weeks to their first match of the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup Colombia 2024, Head Coach Chris Musa Danjuma has called up four goalkeepers, eight defenders, eight midfielders and 12 strikers to a training camp in the Federal Capital, Abuja in the first phase of preparation for the global tournament.

Team captain Oluchi Ohaegbulem is top of the list, with first-choice goalkeeper Faith Omilana, defenders Shukurat Oladipo and Comfort Folorunsho, midfielders Chinyere Kalu, Adoo Yina and Rofiat Imuran, and forwards Janet Akekoromowei, Flourish Sabastine and Aminat Bello also called.

Nigeria, a fixture at the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup finals since the tournament began as an U19 event in Canada 22 years ago, will contend with three-time winners Germany, Asian powerhouse Korea Republic and South American representatives Venezuela in group D of the competition scheduled for three Colombian cities, 31st August – 22nd September.

All the invited are expected at Serob Legacy Hotel, Wuye, Abuja on Sunday, 7th July.

ALL THE INVITED PLAYERS:

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Goalkeepers: Anderline Mgbechi (Delta Queens); Rachael Unachukwu (Nasarawa Amazons); Faith Omilana (Naija Ratels); Shukura Bakare (Nasarawa Amazons)

Defenders: Oluchi Ohaegbulem (Nasarawa Amazons); Jumoke Alani (Nasarawa Amazons); Shukurat Oladipo (FC Robo Queens); Oluwabunmi Oladeji (Naija Ratels); Folashade Adegbemile (Delta Queens); Chidera Okenwa (Delta Queens); Comfort Folorunsho (Edo Queens); Taiwo Lawal

Midfielders: Adoo Yina (Nasarawa Amazons); Olushola Shobowale (Nasarawa Amazons); Aminat Folorunsho (Rivers Angels); Chioma Olise (Edo Queens); Chinyere Kalu (Nasarawa Amazons); Joy Igbokwe (Naija Ratels); Rofiat Imuran (Stade de Reims, France); Zikora Agama (Naija Ratels)

Forwards: Delight Nwosu (Dannaz Ladies); Adaobi Okah (Remo Stars Ladies); Chiamaka Okwuchukwu (Rivers Angels); Chinaza Agoh (Delta Queens); Mary Nkpa (Heartland Queens); Chiamaka Osigwe (Edo Queens); Janet Akekoromowei (Asisat Academy); Mary Offor (Adamawa Queens); Flourish Sabastine (Stade de Reims, France); Sharon Ulumma (Heartland Queens); Aminat Bello (Otero College, USA); Reilly Adebowale (Bohemian FC, Republic of Ireland)   

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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Nigeria’s Flamingos drawn against debuting hosts in FIFA U-17 World Cup

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The Flamingos, Nigeria’s U-17 women’s football team have been drawn against hosts, Dominican Republic for the finals of the Women’s U-17 World Cup holding from 16 October to 3 November in two host cities of Santo Domingo  and Santiago de los Caballeros.

 Both Nigeria and Dominican Republic are drawn in Group A along with Ecuador and New Zealand.  In Group B are Spain, USA, Korea Republic and Colombia.

Group C has  Korea DPR, Mexico, Kenya and England while those competing in Group D are  Japan , Poland, Brazil and Zambia.

The hosts will make their debut in the competition on 16 October against Ecuador in Santiago de los Caballeros, with New Zealand and Nigeria completing Group A.

Herrera, the first Dominican woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, had a special message for her compatriots taking part in the World Cup. She said: “I am the living example that you can achieve your dreams. So, keep up the good work. I am looking forward to seeing those amazing games.”

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Reigning champions Spain, meanwhile, will kick off their campaign in Group B, in which they will face USA, Korea Republic and Colombia, runners-up last time around.

“The advice to all the players that will participate here is to be confident and go live your dream. ¡Y Buena suerte!” said Flores, who took part in this tournament two years ago in India.

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