Umotong buoyed by a new challenge
Brighton & Hove Albion have risen through the ranks, meeting new challenges head-on – and one Seagulls striker wants to spread her wings in the FA Women’s Super League.
Ini Umotong is charting new waters with Brighton in the top tier of the women’s domestic game, with Hope Powell’s side having secured promotion in their last two full seasons.
Umotong previously plundered goals with Portsmouth and Oxford United before helping the Seagulls to a second-placed finish in the second tier last term.
The ante has been comprehensively upped as Brighton embark on their first-ever FA WSL campaign and the 24-year-old, her club’s top-scorer with 10 goals last season, is backing herself to shine on the biggest stage.
“I’ve played in the third tier, the second tier and now, the first tier. I’ve waited for this time for so long and I want to take this opportunity with both hands,” said Umotong.
“Tracking my progress over the years, it’s nice to see that the hard work and the commitment and the determination that I’ve put into my game has finally paid off.
“I’m so excited to release myself into the Super League.
“I have very personal goals and I am very competitive, so whether it’s the third tier, the second tier or the first tier, I have a goal and there’s nothing that’s going to stop me from hitting it.”
Umotong opened her 2018-19 account in Brighton’s FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup opener against Tottenham Hotspur last month.
She expects to get better and better as the season wears on, particularly as she continues to work under Brighton manager Hope Powell, the former England boss.
Umotong said: “It’s incredible. I learned more in one year than I probably have in my whole career.
“I wanted to be able to become a real student of the game and under Hope, I feel like I’m doing that. She’s just teaching me so much that I didn’t even realise before.
“She’s releasing potential in me that I didn’t even realise that I had. I have so much to learn under her and I’m really excited for the future.”
Umotong is also aiming to keep her international exploits in rude health, targeting a place in Nigeria’s squad for November’s Africa Women Cup of Nations.
Born in Calabar and having moved to England as a baby, representing the Super Falcons as an FA WSL export means the world to this Seagull.
“I’m so proud to be able to say that I’m in the Super League as a Nigerian player – not just for myself but for my family and my country as well,” said Umotong.
“They’ve got players in top leagues all over the world, so now they can say that they have one in England, which is one of the best leagues in the world. It was something to be really proud of.
“I have a lot of family who will constantly send me over newspapers with my name in it and it just makes me proud because I’m making Nigeria proud.”