Iyabo Abade may not be known to many Nigerian football fans, but when discussions about a certain female footballer who was culled from the national women’s team for being intersex are held, then maybe it might resonate with a section of the supporters.
Abade scored a record 38 goals in the 1996 Nigeria women’s league season while playing for Jegede Babes, from where he was noticed by then Super Falcons coach, Ismaila Mabo. But when he was on the verge of making his debut at the 1998 African Women’s Championship, he was barred from the team when it was discovered that he was intersex – having both male and female sexual characteristics.
He was then sacked by his club shortly after he was dropped from the national team.
In appreciation of Johnson’s work with the team, Muhammed Abba Gana, then minister in the Nigerian government, approved funding for the operation that changed the player’s life.
The operation at the Midway Hospital in Los Angeles, California, cost over US$450,000, according to the BBC.
Now known as James Johnson, he spoke about his experience of being intersex and the amount of discrimination he faced.
Watch the video below:
Born intersex, Iyabo Abade scored a record 38 goals in the 1996 Nigerian female football season.
After a series of incidents on and off the pitch, Abade decided to transition, and became James Johnson.
He’s faced discrimination at all levels of the game. pic.twitter.com/TnjOlNLobm
— Oluwashina Okeleji (@oluwashina) October 1, 2019