The Kenya national women’s team Harambee Starlets striker Esse Mbeyu Akida hopes her profile is catapulted onto the global map following her recent appearance among Africa’s top 10 greatest women footballers.
Akida who ranked fourth, two places behind her counterpart Neddy Atieno who emerged second best revealed her ambitions to play in European leagues as she seeks to improve her technical ability.It’s a new challenge for my career and now the focus is to ensure I raise my game. It’s caught me unawares and only learnt it of it on social media.
“This past year has been a very busy one for the Starlets and for myself. We’ve participated in high profile matches especially during the last year including Cecafa women’s tournament, Cotif tournament as well as the Africa Women Cup of Nations for the first time in history,” the Spedag FC striker stated.Despite excelling in her sport, Esse who is a fourth year student pursuing a degree course in Bachelor of Business management at Methodist University expressed the challenge of having to balance the two acts.
Her passion, however, lies on the pitch.
“I couldn’t imagine without football and it’s obvious why I want to invest more of time in it. Sometimes it’s difficult staying fit and match active because of the low profile Kenyan women’s football has kept. You can guess how I feel when I haven’t participated in a competitive match since we exited AWCON last year,” she lamented.
Rachel Muthoga who is the Executive Director at MTG, a girls youth sports and development Non-Governmental Organization in Kilifi where Esse started her career aged eight was elated to learn of her trainees feats.
“She has grown a lot and probably the most noticeable of that is on her leadership skills. She is a big impact on and off the pitch and a real asset for her team.“She has been a good ambassador of the MTG brand and she’s made us proud. Hopefully she can get the time to come back to play with and inspire the young girls in the team,” Muthoga underscored.
TOP 10 LIST.
10- Portia Boakye (Ghana)
Portia Boakye is a Ghana National Women’s footballer aged 27, who was part of the team that won the country’s first ever Gold Medal at the women’s level .Boakye was once nominated for the Africa Women Footballer of the Year awards and she played for a Swedish club called Ostersunds.She now plays in the Turkish league with Trabzon Idmanocagi.At just 27, there’s still time for Boakye to rise further in the women’s game.
9- Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene (Cameroon)
Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene show cased her talent in the 2016 Africa Womens cup of Nations which was held in her country as she helped them reach the finals only to lose out to Nigeria .Despite Cameroon women team missing the title and finishing number, she was named the best player in the tournament .Currently she plays in Russia after moving to CSKA Moscow on a two year deal.8- Adjoa Bayor (Ghana)
Adjoa Bayor,a midfielder who plays for the Ghana National Team as a midfielder and is aged 37.
Bayor who was the team’s captain was celebrated as part of the World All Stars team that played against a Chinese select side in 2007 and at club level has played in USA, Germany and Ghana her homeland.
She is remembered for her wonder goal during Ghana’s win against Norway in the Women’s World Cup in 2007.She was named Africa Women footballer of the year in 2003.
7- Desire Oparanozie (Nigeria)
Desire Oparanozie was the second highest goal scorer AT the AWCON tournament last year where she bagged three goals en route to helping her team clinch their 10th title.
She currently plays for France-based based side En Avant de Guingamp.
6- Elizabeth Addo (Ghana) Tabitha Chawinga(Malawi)
Elizabeth Addo scored seven in their group stages at the Africa Women Cup of Nations, Addo scored once in each match. Both currently are in Sweden playing for Kvarnsvedens IK. Addo was the second runners up in the previous CAF awards. She equally enjoyed an exceptional year with Tabitha Chawinga in Sweden.
5- Asisat Oshoala, (Nigeria)
Asisat Oshoala is a prolific Nigeria footballer and the two-time African Women’s Player of the Year.
She started her career, playing at youth Level and after her stint at Liverpool she moved to China where she is playing for Dalian Quanjian.
4- Esse Mbeyu Akida (Kenya)
Esse began her career at MTG aged eight and currently a permanent fixture in the Kenyan national team.
The Spedag FC star guided Harambee Starlets to the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, and emerged the top scorer at the COTIF women’s tournament in Spain, claiming the golden boot. She was the top scorer in the 2016 Cecafa Women’s tournament.
3- Gaelle Enganamouit (Cameroon)
Gaelle Enganamouit is one of the greatest players in the continent having featured for Cameroon squad in the past few years.
She started her career playing in the Serbian league but is now a well-rounded player. She was rewarded with the African Women’s Footballer of the Year award in 2015.
2- Neddy Atieno Okoth (Kenya)
Atieno is a skillful player capable of mesmerizing; earning comparisons with Brazilian star forward Marta.
The 22-year old was part of the Harambee Starlets squad that made history by beating Algeria to book a place in the 2016 Africa Women Cup of Nations final held in Cameroon, and was named best Female Player of the Year at the SOYA Awards.
1- Janine van Wyk (South Africa)
Janine van Wyk is the country’s most capped football player (male or female) having featured for banyana banyana 143 times.She recently signed for American club Houston Dash, having previously represented Sundown’s, Palace Super Falcons and JvW of South Africa. She’s twice scored the winning goal against Nigeria, including at the 2012 Africa Cup and has previously flown the flag for SA’s women’s team at the Summer Olympics in London and Rio.