Brother and Sister Playing For Nigeria

The Nigerian football team has a long and proud history. The men’s team has produced some sensational talents since its inception including such world stars as Kanu and JayJay Okocha. But now the “Super Eagles”, as the Nigerian team have been named by their fans, have something else to celebrate and be proud of – the national women’s team has been reaching new heights as a competitive force on the international scene. Furthermore, what links this proud family in more ways than one are Bright and Courtney Dike, both fierce supporters of the national game in Nigeria,  both playing professionally, both representing their country at international level, and what’s more, both brother and sister.

Tunde FolawiyoKnown as “The Falconets”, Nigeria’s under 20′s all-female team achieved a magnificent milestone in reaching the 2014 Under 20′s World Cup Final after beating North Korea 6-2 in their semi-final match. It was there that Courtney Dike graced the world stage at its highest level in front of a packed crowd in Canada. Having the entire country behind the Nigerian team might have been enough to put pressure on the players, but playing in front of a brother who has also played for Nigeria equally could have been nerve-wracking. Her brother, Bright Dike, plays in Canada and has done for most of his career. Since 2012, he has had two capped appearances and a goal to his name, but there was no sibling rivalry on display during the cup final, and no visible nerves on the pitch. Bright Dike turned up to cheer on his sister, hoping that she and the rest of the under 20′s Nigerian team could defeat a resolute Germany side, as did ordinary Nigerian football fans such as Tunde Folawiyo.

Unfortunately it was not to be, and Nigeria was defeated by Germany, losing to a 98th minute goal in extra time from the opposition’s Petermann. Despite this, Bright Dike feels that the achievement of reaching a World Cup final and matching one of the world’s most famous footballing nations shows how much the game has grown in Nigeria, and how much there is to look forward to over the next few years for fans of the Falconets. It appears that this has been embraced by the fan-base, as interest in Nigeria’s national men’s and women’s teams continues to grow, illustrated by the volume of online activity on social media and other websites as fans post videos about their homeland and football, such as those seen on Tunde Folawiyo’s Youtube channel.

For an African nation to reach such heady heights, and show the skill and determination to compete with the best, is something which many will feel all fans of African football can be proud of. For Courtney Dike and the other Falconets it is just the beginning, and in the years to come they will have a great chance to better their runner-up position in 2014 in future competitions if they build on this positive experience.

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