Award-winning actress, Ifu Ennada, talks about her love for combat sports, her soft spot for Israel Adesanya and more in this exciting interview with PETER AKINBO
In school, did you participate in sporting activities?
Growing up, in school, I was part of the girls football team at some point. I was also part of the athletes that competed in the races. Those were the two major sports that I participated in.
What attracted you to football back then?
I was athletic, and even with the way my body is shaped, I am quite athletic. I was also really fast and I think I just took a liking to the game and I wasn’t bad at it, I guess that was why I was chosen to play. It was just for fun for me though.
What positions did you play?
I played 7 or 11, I was always on the wings. I did not score so often but I assisted a lot, there is one I can still remember now where one of my teammates scored after I assisted her.
What was your favourite football team back when you were playing?
I would watch the World Cup whenever the Super Eagles were part of it and I would support them with my family. I also liked Argentina at some point, and also Arsenal, and although I can’t really say why I liked them, but maybe because Thierry Henry was very popular then, and I thought he is cool, and he is handsome. That was probably the reason why I felt like I was an Arsenal supporter, but that was years ago and I was so young back then.
Do you still follow the Super Eagles now?
Honestly, I really don’t follow the Eagles; I only just see their updates in the news. I think the last thing I saw was that they won their last game and are topping their group in the AFCON qualifiers.
Who would you pick as your favourite footballer of all-time?
I don’t think I have someone that I can pick as my favourite footballer of all-time but back when I was growing up, Nigerian footballers that I really liked then were Sunday Oliseh, Jay Jay Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu and Taribo West. I think I watched them when we won the Olympics in 1996. I also have a vivid memory of Oliseh scoring a goal from the middle of the pitch.
Apart from football, is there any other sport that you enjoy watching?
I used to be a big fan of wrestling until I discovered that their matches were scripted, I also like boxing but I don’t really follow it. What I follow now is the MMA and there are some Nigerians there like Israel Adesanya and Kamaru Usman.
So how did you feel when Adesanya defeated Brazilian Alex Pereira at UFC 287?
I was so happy, especially because he had lost to that guy three times before. I was delighted really and I left a comment on social media on a blog I follow, where I said, ‘a win for one is a win for all’ and someone even came at me, trying to bring politics into it because Izzy is Yoruba, and the person said something like ‘Igbos only choose to be Nigerian when it is convenient.’ And I just realised that this was coming from a tribalistic person. I have always seen myself as a Nigerian, regardless of my tribe. I don’t see Yoruba, I don’t see Igbo and it is sad that someone will bring tribalism into sports. I almost placed a bet on the game actually. I had a feeling that Israel would win it, I think I forgot to tell a friend to place a bet on Izzy.
Anthony Joshua also recently won his last fight too. Between Usman, Joshua and Israel Adesanya, who will you say is your favourite?
My favourite would be Israel, and aside the fact that he is extremely handsome and hot, the fact that he is also petty, I love it. What he did to Pereira’s son by mocking him the way he mocked him after he won, I love it, some people were saying ‘why’, and I’m like ‘why not?’ I like the fact that he looked for the guy and gave it back to him. I know he is an adult but that is something someone like me would do, so, I love him for that. He is very confident, I just love Izzy, he walks into a room and you can feel his energy, and that is the type of person I am as well.
You seem to like Adesanya so much, would you go on a date with him?
If he wants to go on a date with me, why not?
You played football, ran races, and love combat sports. If you had the chance, would you consider going into combat sports?
Not really sure I would. I guess I love combat sports because when I was young, I was a tomboy, I beat up a lot of people, I wasn’t a bully, but there were bullies who thought they could step on me, so, I dealt with them. I guess that is where the aggressiveness comes from, that is where the love for combat sports comes from because I feel like when someone like Izzy is going up against an opponent, the person is like a bully and has to be dealt with. And I like seeing strong men punch and kick and fight, as long as they are doing it for money, and not just randomly.
If any of your kids showed interest in combat sports, would you encourage it?
Why not? Obviously I will, I mean if that is what you really want to do, and you have the talent and you are good at it, and have the passion for it, I will definitely support you.
Was there any time when sports gave you the edge in am acting role?
Honestly, sometimes you don’t know what producers are looking for, but I know I played the role of a dancer in a movie called The Quest, and I think my athletic physique was probably one of the reasons they considered me because most dancers are really trim and slim.
How do you stay fit nowadays?
I just work out in my home, I have a space I do bodyweight exercises, I do core exercises as well, and I have an ankle weight I use from time to time. I also try to eat healthy, so, you won’t see me eating anything that is really unhealthy. I try to keep it as healthy as possible and also try not to eat late at night, if I do, then it has to be something that will digest easily before I go to bed.