Harambee Starlets striker Essie Akida on Monday, February 17 signed a two-year professional contract with Turkish giants Besiktas.
Akida made history as she becomes the first Kenyan woman to join a side which features in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, arguably the world’s most prestigious club competition.
Akida previously turned out for Israeli side Ramat HaSharon FC which signed her in October 2018.
She was part of the Harambee Starlets team which won Kenyans’ hearts in 2016 as they qualified for the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, beating more fancied opposition on their way to the continental showpiece.Harambee Starlets striker Essie Akida signs a contract with Besiktas on Monday, February 17
On Twitter, Akida confirmed the move as she revealed her desire to get on the pitch for Besiktas.
“Officially a hawk. Glad to officially announce that I have joined the Besiktas family. Big club with big ambitions. I want to thank my family at Ramat Hasharon for the opportunity they gave me in what was my first professional stint and wish them the best in the new season,” she wrote.
Before the move to Israel, Akida featured in the Kenya Women’s Premier League for Thika Queens FC.
She signed for Thika Queens in June 2018 from Spedag FC which also features in the Women’s Premier League.
Akida’s undeniable talent became known to the world at Spedag where she spent most of her career, tearing up the league with numerous goals and assists.
With the move to Ramat HaSharon FC, Akida followed in the footsteps of a number of Kenyan women footballers who turned professional such as Mary Kinuthia, Terry Engesha and Chris Nafula who played in Sweden.
The forward’s signing for Besiktas, however, is the most high-profile move in Kenyan women’s football history.
Based in Istanbul, Besiktas Women is the women’s section of Beşiktaş JK, a major club founded in Turkey in 1903 that is also the country’s most successful side.
Besiktas Women play their home matches at the Fulya Hakkı Yeten Stadium in Istanbul’s Şişli district.
The team currently sits in second place on the log in Turkey’s top-flight women’s league with ten matches played.
Akida will be expected to provide goals and assists, with Besiktas having lost experienced internationals Kader Hançar, Sevgi Çınar, Sevgi Salmanlı and Yağmur Uraz, all forwards, in July 2019.