Some six years ago, 17-year-old Blessing Harrison did not have the dream of becoming a sportswoman. Despite her humble background, not even the rich and famous lifestyle of popular athletes could inspire her. All she wanted was to go to school and make the best out of life.

But in 2023, she is caught between two sports and her sterling performances in both now leaves her with the difficult decision of focusing on one of them.

From 2017 till now, she has developed so much in basketball and flag football (a variant of American football where, instead of tackling players to the ground, the defensive team must remove a flag or flag belt from the ball carrier to end a down).

What has become potential career paths for her now started accidentally in 2017 when she was at the popular Redemption Camp in Ogun State and was selected as part of the basketball team.

“I went there to represent my region and we had good players on the team, throughout the tournament I was on the bench because I didn’t know anything about the game, but I was happy that we won,” Harrison told PUNCH Sports Extra.

“I sat on the bench for two years in my church team, so I told myself that if I wanted to really play this game, I needed to join an academy so that I can understand the rules, the plays, the defence and offence, so, I joined an academy named Mc Spencer.”

Safe to say that was how the journey began. And as she progressed, the urge to sharpen her qualities, especially her speed, made her to join a flag football team called Vortex, now known as Outlaws Athletics, where she also became an instant hit.

In the space of a year, she played three full seasons of flag football while still playing basketball.

In her first season with the Outlaws, she got the rookie of the year award and followed it up with the MVP award in her second season. In the third, she switched positions and helped her team land the championship.

“When she joined us, she had some key fundamentals like discipline and a good mindset for an athlete. She is coachable, she doesn’t miss training without a valid reason as well,” co-owner of Outlaws Athletics, Akitoye Ogboye, told PUNCH Sports Extra.

In just a year, Harrison is touted as one of the revelations of flag football, which is gradually growing in Nigeria. Ogboye added that her presence, as well as that of other female players, changed the way the game is being played in the league, as teams now play as many female players as the males.

“She is one of the best offensive females we have. In fact, she is one of the trios we call ‘Outlaws Witches’ due to how devastating they are against our opponents. At the moment she is on the radar of the Nigeria-America Football Association, and we as a team will give her every opportunity as she aims higher,” he said.

Not forgetting basketball, Harrison featured in the just-concluded phase of the Zenith Women’s Basketball League in Benin City, Edo State. When it comes to combining both games, she takes permission modestly especially when there are clashing games.

Navigating school and two sports is extreme sports in itself. And in order to support her education, family and the cost of her training gear, Harrison needed to do something extra and make some money, no matter how small.

She combines both sports with sewing things like headbands, sport bags and tote bags while also studying Accounting at the Lagos State Polytechnic now Lagos State University of Science and Technology.

“By the grace of God, I’m making waves. Recently, I did headbands for a team in Benin Republic and I was able to pay my school fees from the proceeds. Also, I was able to get myself training shoes for both sports, I can afford my transport fare to school, camp or anywhere I have functions without bothering my mother and feeding too.”

Harrison still finds it difficult to settle for either basketball or flag football. According to her, she will be ready whenever a big break comes from either of the sport, while she also has plans to expand her headbands sewing business into a popular brand for athletes.



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