Award winning Nollywood icon, Ireti Doyle talks about her love for the Super Eagles, Serena Williams and more in this interview with PETER AKINBO

Growing up, what sport did you enjoy?

During my early years, I vividly recall the joy and fascination I experienced while watching various sporting spectacles. Whether it was the electrifying performances of track and field athletes, the displays of strength and agility in gymnastics, or the intense battles witnessed in wrestling events, each sport had its unique appeal that captivated my youthful mind.

Did you participate in any sport yourself?

 Although I dabbled in a few sports myself, like volleyball and racing, I must confess that my endeavours in those areas were rather short-lived. Despite my earnest attempts, it became apparent that my heart wasn’t fully in it. It was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. But the moment I started acting, I knew I had found my true calling

Did your parents ever discourage you from pursuing a career in sports?

Thankfully, I was lucky to have parents who showered me with unwavering support and encouragement in all areas of life, including my potential involvement in sports. Their belief in my abilities and their dedication to fostering my personal growth allowed me the freedom to explore my talents and passions without any discouragement or constraints.

Were you passionate about football growing up?

While my passion for football may not have been constant during my upbringing, there were moments when my love for the sport burned bright. Particularly, when our national team, the Super Eagles, graced the pitch and exhibited exceptional skill and prowess, my heart swelled with pride and excitement.

What led you to acting?

The decision to embark on a career in acting was not driven by chance, but rather, it was a conscious choice grounded in a deep-seated belief that it was my true calling. Equipped with a natural inclination towards communication and a desire to express myself creatively, the realm of acting offered a unique avenue through which I could connect with others on a profound level. By immersing myself in diverse characters and narratives, acting affords me the opportunity to communicate in different ways.

Are you a fan of the Super Eagles?

Without a doubt, I used to be an avid fan of the Super Eagles. The sheer exhilaration and sense of unity that arise from witnessing their performances on the international stage never failed to excite me especially when they played well of course. Sitting at the edge of my seat every time, I proudly supported our national team. In recent times though, I have not been such a follower due to work and they have dropped form, but I still support them in my heart.

Do you think that Nigeria can get to the stage that Morocco got to at the last World Cup?

It is my firm belief that Nigeria possesses immense potential to achieve and surpass the heights reached by Morocco in the previous World Cup. However, this aspiration can only be realized if the Nigeria Football Federation start practising effective management, strategic planning, and properly make use of our nation’s abundant talent pool. In the past, our team always brought pride to our nation. To do even greater than then and Morocco, the NFF needs to prepare better and the players also need to play like a team to do this, but before then, we need to qualify for the World Cup first.

Who do you think is the best African player of all time?

I don’t know if he’s the greatest of all time, as it is subjective and open to interpretation, Jay-Jay Okocha is my personal favorite. His incredible skills, mesmerizing dribbling, and sheer elegance on the pitch were truly awe-inspiring. Okocha’s impact and influence on the game continues to resonate with fans across the world.

Do you think male and female national teams should earn the same?

Absolutely, I firmly believe that male and female national teams should receive equal compensation for their efforts. If they are performing the same job, and in some cases even exceeding expectations, there should be no gender-based pay disparity. Recognition and fair compensation should be based solely on merit, skill, and unwavering dedication, irrespective of gender.

If you could spend a day with any sportsperson, who would it be?

 If I had the opportunity to spend a day with any sportsperson, it would undoubtedly be Serena Williams.  Her dominance, resilience, and unwavering dedication to her craft have made her an icon not only in tennis but also in the world of sports. Learning from her experiences, hearing her insights, and witnessing her relentless pursuit of excellence would be an invaluable experience.

If any of your children show an interest in sports, would you encourage it?

 Absolutely, if any of my children show an interest in sports, I would wholeheartedly encourage and support them. I believe in nurturing and fostering their passions, allowing them to explore their potential and pursue their dreams. Sports provide valuable life lessons, teach teamwork, and discipline. I would be there every step of the way, cheering them on and providing the necessary support and guidance they need to thrive in their chosen sport.



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