Dede said that I’m here to help India surprise the world
India hosts the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in November
Dede discusses her transition to coaching alongside father figure Thomas Dennerby
“You cannot be what you cannot see” has become a mantra in women’s football. In the midst of this steadily growing appreciation of the importance of visible role models, India’s aspiring goalkeepers are in an enviable position.
After all, in every training session ahead of this year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, these youngsters will be led by one of the greats of their position. They all know that every word when Precious Dede speaks reflects the lessons of an elite career.
“The girls know what I’ve done and they look a lot at me,” Dede told FIFA.com. “I can see that they are very careful when I work with them, and it helps that I can still step onto the field and show them how to do certain things.
“The other day one of the girls came up to me and asked, ‘Mommy – they call me that – can I ever be like you? ‘And I said to her:’ No, you will not be like me – you will be better than me. That’s why I’m here to get you to that level. “
“When I was still playing, I knew I wanted to be a coach. And not just a coach – a goalkeeper coach. It gives me great pleasure to see good goalkeepers and see how young goalkeepers develop. “
Dede’s Carrier Statistics
99 Nigeria caps
4 FIFA Women’s Cups (2003, 2007, 2011 & 2015)
3 Olympic Football Tournaments (2000, 2004 & 2008)
2 CAF African Women’s Championship titles (2010 & 2014)
If your eyebrows were raised in this last chapter in Dede’s brilliant career, it was not because of the nature of her role but because of her location. Most observers had assumed that, as a Nigerian legend, and after taking her first steps in coaching with the senior national team of the country and the U-20s, she would continue to care for the super falcons of the future.
Instead, the 40-year-old chose a formidable challenge in an unknown culture. She said, “Many people asked me, ‘Why are you going to India? It is not a football country. “But I told them I would come here to prove a point because we are working towards a goal with this U-17 World Cup. And we want to surprise the world.
“It wasn’t all easy, of course, because it is a new environment for me and the culture and food are very different. But the Indian people are so warm and receptive and the players develop because they have the right attitude and willingness to learn themselves very quickly. Each of them is working – but it is clear that the talent is there. “
The job also provided an opportunity to reconnect with a coach and a man whom she shows the greatest respect for. “It was a very nice surprise to get the call from Thomas [Dennerby] asking me to do this job,” she said.
“The fact that he chose me is a great compliment and makes me very happy because for me he is not just a coach, a boss or a mentor. He is like a father. I learned so much from him on and off the field. “