Bright Dike acted just like any other supporter at the final of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2014 between Germany and Nigeria on Sunday, continually rising from his seat, shouting and occasionally holding his head with hands whenever a chance went begging. The occasion proved an especially nerve-racking one for the Toronto FC and Nigeria striker, not least because his sister Courtney was out on the pitch. Having played for his club side against Chicago Fire the day before, Bright was full of expectation after making the trip to Montreal to see his sibling in action.
“It’s a different experience to be looking on as a spectator and it makes me more nervous than playing. I’ve got every confidence in her, though,” he told FIFA.com, with whom he chatted during the game. “She’s done a great job and the whole family is very proud of her.”
In the end, however, the Nigerians came off second best, just as they had done in the final against the same opposition four years earlier. For Courtney Dike there was at least the consolation of a loser’s medal, not to mention the satisfaction of knowing that she had scored the tournament’s fastest ever goal in setting her side on the road to victory against Korea Republic in the group phase.
As he explained, Bright has been giving her tips throughout the tournament, a factor in the Super Falconets’ impressive run perhaps: “I’ve watched all their games online and I’ve spoken to her before and after games. I tell her what she’s doing right and what she’s doing wrong and where she needs to work more. She’s a good player and she’s taken my advice on board too.”
Born in the USA to Nigerian parents, Courtney, Bright and their other siblings are all strikers, and though the Toronto front man is the only member of the Dike family playing the game professionally at the moment, he believes his sister has a big future ahead of her.
“She’s a very clever striker,” he explained. “She’s a good runner and she looks to get in behind the defence. She also moves well between the lines, which is one of the best attributes you can have. She’s a lot like me, I think. We have a very similar style.”
A platform for the future
The Toronto forward said he believed playing for Nigeria at Canada 2014 has been an enriching experience for Courtney and will only help her in her career: “The family has been to Nigeria a couple of times and we know the culture of the country through our parents. This has all been a fantastic experience for her, though. She’s settled in well in the team, made new friends and had a lot of fun.”
While her team-mates are now preparing to go back to Nigeria, Courtney will be making the trip straight back to the University of Oklahoma to continue her business studies.
“She won’t be having her holidays just yet. She’s got to get back down to work,” said Bright with a laugh.
Given the success she has enjoyed in the last few weeks, Courtney will no doubt be keen to return to Nigeria duty in the future, and as Bright pointed out, she will only be stronger for her at Canada 2014 adventure.
“I’m sure she’s going to remember this World Cup for the rest of her life,” said a proud Bright. “It’s been fantastic for her and she’s only going to take positive things from it. It’s also helped her to grow as a player.”
Though her day ended in dejection, a hug and a few consolatory words from her big brother will have put a smile back on Courtney’s face.
— Bright Dike (@bbright19) agosto 25, 2014