While the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) is busy looking at foreign coaches for the women’s national team, one woman making waves in Nigeria while coaching men’s football is Priscilla Vande, coach of the University of Agriculture, Makurdi Tillers (UAM Tillers), winner of the maiden edition of the HiFL and recipient of the HiFL Elite Coach of the Season award in 2018.

Priscilla Vande is proof that if more women are giving the platform and opportunity to prove their mettle, they would succeed. There is an increasing need for female participation in sport, and global sport bodies are creating committees tasked with the responsibility of creating policies and structures that ensures an increased female participation in sport.

Coach Priscilla enrolled at the National Institute of Sports (NIS), Lagos in 2003 to get certification in Coaching. She went on to get a degree in Physical and Health Education in the Benue State University in 2012. This was to equip her for the career path she had chosen; to become a professional coach which is a male dominated profession.

Priscilla Vande sat for an interview with HiFL TV after winning the intercollegiate football championship in 2018, shedding light about her coaching history and the dream she has for her players.

What was your thought about the HiFL and did you believe you could win?

When we were given the invitation, we felt it was a challenge, but we made up our mind that if we could win the NUGA Games, we could also win the HiFL and we put in our best. Even in the midst of lectures our players were still coming for training and at the end God gave us the victory.

What does it feel like coaching a male team?

It’s really not easy, you know, dealing with human beings is not easy. If you are a woman and working in the midst of men, sometimes they feel you want to override them, so you have to use wisdom as a mother, you have to apply wisdom to carry people along to appreciate people’s strength and weaknesses and if you understand the people around you, it makes it easier for you to work with them. Training youths is something that I enjoy doing ,at least as a mother you know how to handle your children, you know when they need discipline, you know when to be soft, when to be hard, to ensure that at least their future is better.

You have endured a lot of personal hardships, how did you turn that into becoming a success?

Widowhood is a world of its own. Once you lose your husband you are in another world entirely because the game is no longer the same, somebody was there as a head, was providing, suddenly the provision is cut off. The partnership is cut off, the person that loves you is no longer there, the person you could fall back to, children school fess, taking care of you, your parent is no longer there, it’s like the whole world became dark. The only thing that made think of living was my children. I sat one day and asked if my husband is gone and I’m also gone, who would take care of this children? That was when I got courage and said I must survive to take care of these children because they have a destiny to fulfill.

Do you think that the HiFL platform provides an easy transition for student footballers to become professional footballers?

Some of my players tell me they want to go beyond playing university football. I kept encouraging them, praying for them and now the HiFL has provided that platform for my players, even for myself. We have been travelling, enjoying the benefits of the HiFL and now two players from my team have been signed to recognized clubs, Kano Pillars and Nassarawa United. The HiFL is showcasing my players and many people (clubs) are indicating interest of signing them (players) after their graduation.