Eku Edewor, a British-Nigerian actress, TV presenter and model, talks about her passion for sports, racism and more, in this interview with ANTHONY NLEBEM
They were did you play sports growing up?
I played sports in my primary and secondary school. I was very active in school sports. I held the 100m indoor track and field record and the long jump record at my high school. I also played football and was part of my school team in England.
Looking at how much sportsmen and women earn these days, do you regret not pursuing a career in sports?
I don’t regret not starting a career in sports. I don’t think I have the discipline to be an athlete. It takes a lot of dedication and hours of training and it takes a toll on the body. It’s very physically demanding and I just couldn’t see myself in that type of career. My sister tried to encourage me, but I couldn’t handle the hard daily workouts. You have to be extremely dedicated if you want to become a successful athlete.
Which Nigerian female athlete do you admire?
The world champion. Toby Amusan. I’m really impressed with the standard she competed at and the fact that she was able to improve her time; and it keeps getting better. It’s great to do that because a lot of times when you’re competing against world-class athletes who have access to better training, coming out on top is even more impressive.
As a British-Nigerian, if Nigeria pay against England, which team will you support?
I will definitely support the Nigeria team even though I am half British. I actually grew up in Nigeria and I have a lot of national pride in Nigeria because the country has such a big part of my identity. I will always be a Nigeria fan.
Are you a big fan of Nigerian football?
I only follow soccer when Nigeria plays in the World Cup or the African Cup of Nations, I don’t follow the Nigerian League. I’m not a die-hard football fan, so to speak, but I have played for my school team. I grew up in Nigeria and football was just a big part of our culture. I was on the girl’s team. One of my uncles owned a soccer team when we were younger. I don’t have that passionate interest in football that you see some fans cry when their team loses.
Which Nigerian footballer do you admire the most?
When we were younger, everybody knew some of the big names in the Super Eagles like Nwankwo Kanu and Daniel Amokachi and they were national heroes. I am also impressed when I see young Nigerian talents being lured by foreign clubs, obviously this is a way to improve their lives.
What is your opinion on racism in sports?
I found this really frustrating because the whole point of the sports scene is a level playing field that gives everyone the same level of opportunity. No matter where you come from or your background, you compete on an equal level. It’s really disheartening that racism comes into it because that energy can affect the morale of the players who have to go and do their best and as a result you undermine their spirit. Also, racism makes it an unfair playing field for those who have been mistreated by putting so much negativity into their minds. There is no place for racism in sports and it’s really disappointing that people are big losers these days.
What do you think about male footballers earning more than their female counterparts?
The Men’s Football League generates much more money and contributes a lot of finance to the GDP of the country it operates from. So, I think players should be valued based on how much the league can afford. I definitely don’t think female players should be underpaid. The men’s league makes a lot more money than the women’s so it’s more about reviewing the pay and getting more people to support women’s football and build it up until it gets to the point where they make more money then the players can start demanding equal pay. I don’t think it’s comparable, everyone’s search is very different.
If one of your children chose the sport, would you support them?
I will support any of my children who want to choose a career in sports if they have a strong passion for it. I encourage sports in schools because I think it’s a great lesson to learn that life isn’t fair and that you won’t win every time, and it also teaches you to work as a team. Every type of sport is seen as a viable career, so you no longer have to be a certain type of athlete to be successful and you can find success in a variety of sports. And I can be a good manager.
What influenced your career decision?
I have always wanted to be an actress and mostly produce and act in films. I have always wanted to act since I was a child growing up in Nigeria. I have an interest in movies and I wanted to be in entertainment and I took every opportunity that came along that would expose me to the entertainment industry. That’s how I got into modeling and TV shows.
Do you still exercise sometimes?
Yes, I do some training and go to the gym.