In this exclusive interview OKWENNA CHIOMA BLESSING an 18-year-old who became a phone engineer in Lagos abandoned football for a career that is obviously male dominated. Typical of tomboys, her relationship is stronger with boys and she shares her experience of how she became a phone engineer with JOSEPH ODOEKWU of SPORT INTELLIGENCE MAGAZINE. The excerpt reads.
Can we meet you?
I am Okwenna Chioma Blessing a phone engineer based in Lagos, I am from Nnewi South L.G.A of Anambra state. My father died when I was about 3 years old and my mother died two years ago.
So whom do you stay with now and how did you come into phone repairs?
I stay with my friend and I came into phone repairs because of my love for it. I actually had passion for playing football first then phone repairs, but I settled for becoming a phone repairer.
Why phone repairs, when you can become a professional footballer and earn big?
(Laughs) I actually thought I was going to become a great footballer. Football was my passion and I was a striker and played very well but after my mother died two years ago, all my dreams of becoming a footballer shattered.
How do you mean, did she advise you to stop playing football before she died?
Not really. The truth is while playing football, I sustain injuries then and my mum takes care of them but since she passed on no one to encourage me in that aspect. It is actually difficult to play football without sustaining injuries and moreover, I need to feed. So, I switched to my second passion which is phone repairs and that’s why I am here now.
You mean you don’t have relatives who can assist you with your football career and continue where your mum stopped?
That was a bit difficult. I had an aunt whom I stayed with while in secondary school, but she sells food in the market and want me to assist her in the food business and maybe take it up as a career. But, I really do not like the idea, and I could not begin talking about football to her because she has shown me what she wants me to do. So I had to face my second area of interest in life and that is how phone repairs came up.
If you get adequate support will you abandon phone engineering for football?
Never! I will not abandon phone engineering for football. It is over between me and football at least for now. I am having fun with phone repairs
Why, but you stated earlier that football was your actual passion?
Yes I said that earlier, but for now it is over between me and football. I have to be realistic, I need to earn a living and football does not seem to have that prospect for me right now. I am an orphan.
Even if you get all the support you need?
I will not consider football. Female football does not get the adequate support needed and I read stories about how most female footballers are not well paid compared to the male footballers. Its everywhere, but I guess it is worse in Nigeria.
Okay, how did you establish yourself as a phone engineer?
First, I was selling Puff-puff (Local dough food) in Surulere. Then I saved money from the sales and enrolled to become an apprentice where I learnt how to repair phones. It was really interesting, I perfected in screen touch repairs first, and then now I have known so much about phone repairs. I can virtually do a lot of things on phone now.
So you now have a business of your own in phone repairs?
No, it’s not easy to have that. I am attached and I need support to enable me become an independent person in the business. It is not going to be easy, but with patronage from people like you, I will do more
How do you cope as a female in male dominated business like this?
I do not have problems with the male. It’s just that everyone tries to win customers over and I am in the struggle too.
But on an average, how much do you make in a month?
When It’s a more lucrative month, I make N70,000 ($181.34) but when it’s less, I make N50,000 ($129.53)
Finally, do you have any regret for your decision
I do not have any regret. I am okay and looking forward to the future.
Thank you for your time
Thank you too sir