Professional footballer and 1st class graduate of Economics
IniAbasi Umotong, 26 is a professional footballer, currently playing for Vaxjo in the Damallsvenskan (Swedish Women’s Premier League), having joined the club in August 2020. Prior to joining Vaxjo, Ini played in the English Women’s Super League with Brighton and Hove Albion FC from 2017 to 2020 where she scored 20 goals in 59 competitive games, and also in the Women’s Super League 2; with Oxford United from 2016 to 2017, where she scored 17 goals in 26 league games and also won the FA WSL2 2016 top goal scorer and players’ player and Portsmouth FC from 2014 to 2016 where she scored 54 goals in 45 league games. Her (2014–15) first season at Portsmouth opened the path for Umotong’s international career. Her goal scoring exploits led the FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division side to win their seventh successive Hampshire County Cup and the league title. With 29 goals in 25 league and cup matches, Umotong emerged top goal scorer for Pompey. On the world stage Ini has represented Nigeria in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.
Ini Umotong comes from Ikono L.G.A. in Akwa Ibom State. She is the youngest of six siblings. She moved to Birmingham, England with her family when she was one year old. According to Wikipedia, the young Umotong started playing football at the tender age of five when she was in Primary school. In 2003, she was spotted by Birmingham City. She later attended King Edward VI Five Ways School. Her first call up to the Super Falcons was in February, 2015. She was invited to join the Super Falcons by Coach Edwin Okon in preparation for the 11th All-Africa Games. She also participated in 2016 Olympic Games qualifiers and the 7th FIFA Women’s World Cup finals. Umotong’s first goal for Nigeria as a Super Falcons player was scored in January 2019 at the Four Nations Tournament in China. She came from the substitute’s bench to register the final goal in a 4–1 win over Romania.
Until recently, footballers used to be seen as school dropouts and never-do-well students in school. But today, the achievements of many footballers in education have shown that you can be a professional footballer and also be highly educated person. Ini graduated from University of Southampton in 2017 with First-Class (Hons) Bachelor degree in Economics, having made the Dean’s List for outstanding achievement.
Alongside her professional sports career, she looks forward to opportunities to pursue a career in Football Business, being mentored by the Head of Commercial at Brighton and Hove Albion FC. As an elite athlete, the high-pressure environment has developed resilience, mental grit, and an ability to analyze constantly changing scenarios to find creative solutions in both winning and losing situations. Through constant research and analysis of opponents and teammates, Ini has developed the ability to fine tune even the smallest detail for optimal results.
Female athletes are finally seen as strong, powerful women, which brings with it opportunities to grow women’s sport (especially women’s football) and she strives to be part of these exciting changes.