Woman Corporal Josephine Ucheckukwu Okeke, officiating a football match.

By Nnaji Kenneth

Woman Corporal Josephine Ucheckukwu Okeke is another rising sport talent from the Nigeria Police Force that will hopefully hit continental and global sports acclaim given the opportunities.

The Nigeria Police Force have produced top-brass athletes who have won medals at national, continental and intercontinental sports meets and the Olympics for the country. Aside its core responsibility of policing the nation’s territory, the NPF have produced a pool of sports talents – men and women – for Nigeria.

From the Nigerian Nightmare, DSP Samuel Peters, former World Boxing Council (WBC) heavy weight champion of the world; KiKeloma Ajayi, former skipper of Nigeria super Falcons; Adeleye Samuel, Chioma Ajunwa, and Late Sunday Bada; the Nigeria Police have produced bright sports talents who have made trail-blazing records in boxing, football, field and track, sports and administration.

The next rising talent from the Police Force is Woman Corporal Josephine Okeke.

READ ALSO : Serena Williams – A toast to the future

Josephine Okeke is a multi-talent sportswoman. She plays table tennis, hand ball, badminton and football. Her ambition is to become a world icon in football officiating. She is bracing on to become an international female football referee.

Josephine Okeke - another rising sport talent from Nigeria Police Force Woman Corporal Josephine Okeke (right) with other officials and players posing for photograph before a match.

Born in Nnewichi, Nnewi North local government, Anambra State, Josephine is the last child to her parents. She started showing interest in building a career in Sports from Primary school and took active parts spontaneously in competitive sports activities while in the University.

In 2016 after graduation from the University, she enrolled in the Nigeria Police Force. By 2017, she had passed out from the Nigerian Police Training College, Oji River, Enugu State. The next year, a female colleague of hers who knew of her strong interest in Sports introduced her to the Anambra Sports Machine team. She was encouraged to join the Nigeria Referee Association (NRA) Awka chapter where she has been trained and certified as a referee.

Woman Corporal Okeke has featured in many sporting games including, the Police games (Women Category) 2020. She has represented the Police team Zone 9 in women’s football and came back with a silver medal.

‘Strong woman’ as she is called by football players in Anambra who know her was the Center Referee (CR) at the finals of the just concluded Anambra State Academicals 2021/2022 U-13 football competition held at the new Awka township stadium, Anambra State.

W/Coporal Okeke has enjoyed the mentorship of many affable referees both in the Police team and the Akwa South Referee Society where she is a member. She has benefitted from the invaluable mentorship of Supol Teslum, Supol Josephine Ihunwo, Mr. Sylvester Ejizu, and her colleague referees within and outside the Force.

Okeke is reputed to be a disciplined referee, firm and compassionate. The head Coach of Wilson FC Okpuno Anambra State, Ozoemena Stanley Chinwendu described her as “phenomenal”. He said Okeke has officiated more than four matches for him as Center Referee(CR) at the Awka township stadium. In all the matches “she performed excellently. She is not easily influenced”, Chinwendu said on telephone. Also, the Assistant Captain of Peace Football Club, Awka, described her as “a disciplinarian who doesn’t joke with her Referee job, always cautions players other than issuing cards unnecessarily.”

Josephine Okeke - another rising sport talent from Nigeria Police Force Woman Corporal Josephine Okeke (right) walking with a colleague referee to the pitch ahead of match.

Many players and spectators adore her speed, composure, courage, integrity, hustle, judgment and gaiety. Her fans are hoping to watch her in the pitch as the next Police Games are approaching.

Woman Corporal Okeke deserves all the attention she can get. It takes a tall combination of determination, focus, drive, passion and hard work to combine a high-tasking job like policing with football officiating – another job reputed for rigorousness. For succeeding in both, Okeke is an inspiration.

* Nnaji Kenneth is a Sports Analyst in Anambra State.