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I Am Learning The Nigerian Culture – Ashley Plumtree

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Leicester City defender Ashleigh Plumtree, who has a Nigerian father, played at junior levels for England before she trained with the Super Falcons earlier this year. She talks about her first visit to Nigeria, why she opted to play for the Falcons and learning the Nigerian culture in this interview with NFF Media

How did you get into football?

I started playing football when I was four. I played for Leicester City when I was eight till I was 14, then played around for few clubs in England. I played for Birmingham City, Derby County and Notts County before going to America, where I played for the University of Southern California. I got back from the United States in December 2019, signed a two-year contract with Leicester and we got promoted from the Championship to the Women’s Super League for this season. So, it’s my first year in the Super League.

Why did you choose to play for the Super Falcons?

I had experiences playing with England when I was younger and I really enjoyed them. I have to be honest, what football means to me now is different from what it was when I was younger. The biggest thing to me now is my family pretty much. I have two younger brothers and one younger sister. My sister and I have the same dad. My dad is Nigerian, my grand dad was born in Lagos, my two brothers have an English mum and their dad’s also English. My sister’s hue is a bit different to mine but we’re both Nigerian, but she has one or two things that I haven’t and we’ve been interested in knowing more about our heritage based on how she identifies herself and how I do as well. It’s only been in the last couple of years especially last year during the Coronavirus pandemic when my sister and I kind of bonded over the fact that we had this Nigerian heritage. She’s only 11 and I feel like I can help and advise her on a lot of things, so it’s like I’m taking her on a journey with me.

Do you plan to trace your origin?

Definitely, I talk to my grand dad. He goes back and forth from Nigeria all the time. He lives in England now but he was brought up in Lagos and as I said, he’s constantly coming back here (Nigeria). We’re learning through him, we have other Nigerian relatives in England who go back and forth too. This is my first time in Nigeria, I’m just trying to learn from my family. I have family (members) all over the world but they always come back to Nigeria

What is the difference between European and African football and have you been able to adapt?

 

I have to be honest, it’s a learning curve. Obviously, African football is different to European football in so many ways and I’m learning that. For me, as a footballer, you should always be learning and also there are potentially other things I can help the girls with, such as the tactical knowledge. It’s been interesting so far, the athleticism and all, are some of the things I’m not really used to. I think it’s important to adapt if I’m going to be invited to more camps. I guess I have a bit of a British mentality sometimes, I can allow myself to get frustrated at things. Off the pitch, I’m kind of smiley but on the pitch, I can get frustrated easily and that has happened to me in a few training sessions. Compared to England where everyone is just swearing, here you just get on with things.

Are you learning the Nigerian culture and what’s the feeling like since you started training with the team?

I’m trying to learn through my sister and my grandfather at the moment and the physio helps me anytime I see her; she tries to teach me Yoruba words. I can learn as much as I want when I’m in England but you’ll never get the real feel if you’re actually not here. The little things are just fascinating. I’m here for football but I’m learning about things that are just as important that I’ll probably take for granted at home.

Have you shared your thoughts about Nigeria with your family since your first visit?

My dad came to Nigeria when he was about 14. He’s not been out since. He never had a Nigerian passport; my grandfather did, so he had to get his before I got mine. So, that was an experience in itself, trying to get our passports. I have a lot of families who are Nigerians who live here (in Nigeria) even if I don’t get to speak to them much, some I’ve not even met even though I’ve spoken to. I believe I have to be in Nigeria to really experience the culture

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