Former Nigeria international dies at 36 after brief illness
– Sports communities mourn
Tears have continued to flow freely after the announcement of the sudden death of former Super Falcons forward, Ifeanyichukwu Chiejine by the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) after what was described as a brief illness.
According to the statement by the Nigeria’s Football governing body, the former Confluence Queens of Lokoja striker known with jersey number 8 died on Wednesday, August 21.
Chiejine’s during her active playing days captained the first set of the U19 National Women’s team to the first U19 (Now U20) FIFA World Cup in 2002.
She was also the youngest female player to play at the FIFA Women’s World Cup when she made her debut in 1999 at the age of 16.
Chiejine was playing for SSVSM-Kairat Almaty in the Kazakhstani Championship.
before her passing, she remained the only woman managing a man’s club in the Nigerian Nationwide League.
According to sources, she was said to have been battling strange muscular disease which resurfaced while on national assignment during Flamingos last qualifying matches in Benin city.
For Heartland Football Club of Owerri Chief Coach, Mr. Fidelix Ilechukwu who was visibly in shock, in a very low tone said; I was crazy, very sad reading this unfortunate news online. I don’t know what happened. It is shocking to the football family. But we cannot ask God why. My condolences to her immediate family, NFF and Nigeria at large.”
Speaking to NewsTrack Nigeria, the Chairman of Warri Wolves Football Club Chairman, Chief Moses Etu, described the sudden transition of Chiejine as unfortunate. He spoke bitterly over the silence of those close to her when she was going through sickness.
“It is unfortunate. A very young woman who still had so much to offer. It is even more painful to learn that she was sick and most people did not know about it. She laboured for this country and died like nobody. My advise is that whenever any player when active or not has problems, let them make it open. Let people know. Look the case of one of our legends, Christian Chukwu. he would have been dead but for the fact it was thrown open to the public, one great Nigerian, Chief Femi Otedola came and salvaged the situation.”
He also called for the perfection of pension scheme for sportsmen and women so as to save them when it matters most. Sporting activities are only temporary engagements, which will end someday soon. We must learn to plan for the exit of our sports men and women and that is the only thing to be proud that they represented their nation.
For the Chairman of Prince Eze United, Mr. Cleopas Anyanwu, he described Chijine’s death as a paradox of Nigerian system. he wondered how such a talented woman should die so painfully. She was everything a gift to the football community. She even coached male football club, a feat a square peg in a square hole can achieve. She will be missed. “This should serve as a lesson to football administrators in this country. We must plan for the future of these ones even after they must left the field of play, they can always have a respite in times like these”.