From playing almost all numbers on the pitch and being beaten by her brothers for playing football, to having no career role model growing up – Here is the story of Joan Nakirya.
Nakirya is a Uganda Crested Cranes player flying high in the United States.
She is strong, more effective from the right wing and gives no chance to the opponent through her quick decision making and roughness on the ball.
Nakirya fell in love with the beautiful game at 10yrs, playing as the only girl with village boys back in Mbale district.
“They would beat me whenever they got me playing with boys and told me not to tell my parents because if I did, they would beat me again, Nakirya narrates to the-SportsNation.com about how she was barred from playing football.
Her brothers were protective which is understandable, but were always supportive in other way or the other.
The young Nakirya was brought up by her mother Nakirya Bennah and Wasike Charles (step Dad). She started school at Namatala Primary school where she completed her primary education before joining Manafwa high school on a scholarship. She was then spotted by Sarah Kabanda who connected her to St Julian Secondary school.
Personal issues between the School coach and the school administrators could not provide a safe haven for the ambitious young star who later joined St Mary’s Kitende and finally Lubiri Ss to complete her High school.
Playing for Gafford Ladies FC, Nakirya with teammate Sandra Nantumbwe, joined Redland Community College located in El Reno, Oklahoma USA for studies as well as football in August, 2017.
The achievement, Nakirya claims is her best so far. Being named on the season best XI in the 2017 season stands as her second.
Henry Barungi linked the two players to USA, and Nakirya says that it was a blessing to be chosen among many.
“Balungi granted me this opportunity of coming to the United States. He had a lot of girls he would give this chance but he chose me and am very grateful. He has been a blessing and he will forever be because he is the reason I am today,” Nakirya comments.
“I miss my family a lot. As we all know that being in a foreign country where you don’t know anything always seems hard. My first days in the United States were not easy because everything was different from what I knew or thought. But as time went on, I started getting used and everything started to flow easy because I had a lot of people who supported me and helped me in either ways of getting to know everything.
“I am currently facing a knee injury that is pulling me back from what I had expected or thought I was gonna perform in this season. But generally life is good.”
The youngster stresses that her teammates are her closest friends and she would have been married and dropped out of school by now if it wasn’t for football.
“I would have been married when I look back on my friends I had before joining football, they all dropped out of school are now married.”
She adds that she was impressed by how hospitable the people were in the States and allowing her in for who she is.
“It has been challenging acclimatizing to everything but time has proved remedy.”
Nakirya is a believer as well: My principal is Serving others as I serve him – For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength – Philippians 4:13 NLT.
On Women football in Uganda, Nakirya is impressed with the way FUFA has handled the women game but adds that a lot has to be done to tackle the number of challenges girls continue to face like traditional taboos among others.
When asked about life, Nakirya claims that she has never cried for love as she is and always been a perfect lover.