Sunday, 18 August 2013

Can You BelieveThat This Man Was A Woman And Ex-Super Falcons Player? (PICTURED)

Former Super Falcons forward, Iyabo Abade, is the most celebrated high-profile case of a hermaphrodite in women’s football, who subsequently had surgery in 2004 and is now living as a man, with a new name, James Johnson.... He tells ’Tana Aiyejina about his travails trying to adjust to his new life as a man, societal discrimination and his aim to help hermaphrodites. Please continue below.

Now that you are a man, has it been easy playing men’s football?

I thank God for how far He has brought me. I have made every effort to get to the top as a footballer but there is no support from anywhere, even the Nigeria Football Federation. I am just trying on my own to get to the top but it hasn’t been easy. You go for trials and you do well and you are recruited but after sometime, they will start acting funny; they use my past against me. I try to ensure that I don’t let clubs know who I am. I don’t like telling them that I am the former Iyabo Abade; I have to go there like every other normal player and fight for a place in the team. But when they hear that former Iyabo Abade has signed for either Crown FC or Plateau United, they start discriminating against me. Meanwhile I got there as James Johnson but they keep asking, “Can she cope in the midst of guys?” They have forgotten that I am a man and I met their requirements before they signed me up. Once they now know my past, they won’t allow me to play anymore. Were they blind when they signed me? With that, I feel frustrated and discriminated against so I decided that there was no need disturbing myself and I decided to quit. I am praying that God helps me so that I can continue my career abroad. I think things will be better over there.

Has the society accepted you for who you are?

Some do but some have not. Everybody cannot like you for who you are, so you just have to take life the way it is. My colleagues who we played together in the women’s league all welcome me. Some people want to be my friends even when they don’t know who I am and even when they know that I am the former Iyabo Abade turned James Johnson, they are still happy to be my friends. I am happy with that. There is no need for me to be feeling sad that God created me the way I am. So, I am happy with life but I feel sad because some people are out there to cut short your happiness. I will be happy playing football but some people don’t like it.
What is your relationship with your Falcons teammates?

Some of them still welcome me; they see me just like every other person. They don’t discriminate against me; we grew up together and did things together even though I am no more in their group. I am so happy about that. When the news first came out, a lot of them were shocked because they didn’t even know anything about hermaphrodite. But later, they sympathised with me; they said I am not God and didn’t create myself. That was how it went and we are still friends till now.

Your rehabilitation should be in stages. How far have you gone?

I am still on it. After I went for check-up in 2009, I am due for the next stage, where a surgery will be carried out to enable me become a full man and live a normal and perfect life. But every effort has been futile; nothing is really happening and I am looking up to God to intervene in this issue. I have made every effort and gone to the NSC but they did nothing. I took a letter there and was going there for about seven months. So I have to look elsewhere to enable me complete the surgery. I also wrote to NFF when Sani Lulu was the head and he gave me hope. He said, ‘Bring your letter and we will see what we can do.’ But at the end, they said, ‘We don’t know what happened to your letter.’ When it gets to releasing money, that is when the letter gets missing. Only Family Worship helped me a great deal to go for the check-up.

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