Nigeria’s amazing performance at the Women’s World Cup came to an end on Monday after football heavyweights England beat it 4-2 on penalties to reach the quarter-finals. Nigeria’s Super Falcons may have been knocked out but the team remains an inspiration for women’s football in Africa.
Nigeria came into the tournament ranked 40th in the world but it was impressive throughout the tournament, playing against Canada, Australia and Ireland and not losing. One of the players who contributed immensely to the team’s fantastic run is Michelle Alozie. When the Super Falcons defender isn’t on the field, she is working as a pediatric cancer research technician.
Born in 1997 in Apple Valley, California to Nigerian parents from Imo State, Alozie told FIFA that her morning is spent training with Houston Dash in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). She then spends her afternoons working at Texas Children’s Hospital as a research technician studying acute leukemia and cancer.
It’s tough juggling football with pediatric cancer research but Alozie has been able to pursue both careers because she is passionate about them. Pediatric cancer research wasn’t really a field she thought she was going to find herself in but she said it’s so amazing to be able to have an impact on the lives of children.
“Childhood cancer isn’t something that’s researched that much. Being able to be a part of that and be a part of that research is just such a blessing,” she said. “I have a passion for helping people. Thankfully biology was something that I was really good at in school and so medicine just seemed like the correct option there,” she continued.
Alozie may have been born to play football but she grew up loving medicine and it is a career path she wouldn’t mind pursuing when she can no longer run on the field, she said. There have been moments when she felt that she wasn’t doing enough for football or her medical research but all in all, she is really grateful for coming this far, she said.
“I know that it’s two of my passions and what makes it really worthwhile is that I just love doing both of them. So being able to do them simultaneously, thankfully with both of my jobs, it’s amazing and really just a blessing to be able to live my passion and my childhood dream,” said the Nigerian international, who hopes not to disappoint her bosses in both jobs.
Holding a Bachelors Degree in Molecular Biology from Yale University gives her the required knowledge and skills to work as a researcher but not as a doctor. Yet, her teammates have given her the title of a doctor, coming to her with their medical problems including injuries. Alozie often laughs over that but hasn’t ruled out the idea of studying medicine and becoming a doctor in the future.
“I’m definitely going to play soccer until I literally cannot run anymore! I know medical school will always be there and it will definitely be there when my bones are brittle,” said the 26-year-old.
Alozie made her senior debut for Nigeria on June 10, 2021, in a friendly against Jamaica and she has been phenomenal since then.