By Victor Okoye
Abuja, Sept. 22, 2022 (NAN) Some football stakeholders have urged the Federal Government as well as sponsors to focus more on the promotion of female athletes at the grassroots in the country.
A cross of section of football stakeholders who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja said, the days where female athletes were considered inferior to their male counterparts were gone.
They noted that in recent times, the women have shown that they were a force to reckon with in sports and have brought glory to the country in so many international competitions compared to their male counterparts.
Marcello Anyanwu, a football coach and consultant said the women had shown over the years that they were a force to reckon with in football on the continent, even in the face of poor funding and welfare.
Anyanwu said there was the need therefore to ensure that women’s football was given adequate attention, especially at the grassroots, adding that the women’s league required a major overhaul.
“It’s unfortunate that women’s football which has brought joy to the faces of Nigerians over the years has suffered neglect.
“Also, the management of the female league has been poorly run and managed over the years….,” he said.
The football consultant of Gulf United Football Club, based in Dubai said that the private sector was supposed to be the major driver and sponsor of football in the country.
He blamed the reliance on government as a major source of funding for football as the bane of the dwilding fortunes of the game in the country.
“I will therefore recommend that the managers of the league seek private sponsors as this definitely will boost the league in a major way.
“I will also recommend the managers of the league to seek for experts in football management as the female league needs a major haul,” he said.
He frowned at the huge disparity between the wages earned by the women in the National team as well as at the club level compared to those of their male counterparts in country.
He said there was a need to narrow the gap and ensure that it was almost at par, adding that the introduction of quality life and medical insurance for all female players at their various clubs was non-negotiable.
“I think the issue of borgues allowances for the men compared to the migre wages and allowances for the women should be discouraged as the women are no less inferior.
“I also think there should be the introduction of the health insurance policy for female players in the league, just as it obtains for their male counterparts, especially players who are either playing or have played for the national team.
“More female local coaches should also be encouraged, mobilised and motivated to undergo refresher courses which will keep them up-to-date and make them better on the job,” he said.
Anyanwu who is also an advocate for grassroots football and a Youth sports Ambassador noted that he has been contributing his little quota and building a structure for football and formidable sports development in the country.
“I brought the Gulf United Football Club to Nigeria last year for a showcase, in which 20 players where selected.
“No fewer than four players were signed into the club and are currently playing in the Division two league in the UAE. Most importantly I am creating a pathway for boys to get into teams in the UAE.
“My goal is however not just to see to the growth and development of men’s football in the country, but also to promote female football, especially at the grassroots as I have observed a decline in female sports,” he said.
Also, Ngozi Eze, the Women’s Football representative on the board of the FCT Football Association, also reiterated the fact that women sports was seen as inferior even though it had brought so many accolades to the country.
Eze revealed that the difference in the allowances of female players in the league was really low compared to that of their male counterparts.
“Even at the national team level, the women are not being well taken care of in comparison to their male counterparts, this is inspite of their dominance on the African continent for several years.
“At the local level, States like Rivers, Adamawa, Ondo pay their female players as low as ₦120,000 per month compared to ₦500,000 and above being paid to the men.
“It is really unfortunate that in spite of the huge disparity in wages, the female teams are most often than not owed unpaid wages and allowances by their clubs for several months.
“Some are owed up to one to two years of unpaid salaries and sometimes get frustrated and leave the sport at a young age to get married in order to make ends meet.
“Let me also bring to your notice that all the promises made by the State government to Bayelsa Queens after wining double titles have not been honored at all, which is very bad and demoralizing.
“Bayelsa Queens won the Aiteo Cup last year and also won the league this year and even representing the country at the continental level.
“Unfortunately, they are being owed alot of bulk salaries, bonuses and alot of promises made by the government to appreciate and motivate the girls have not been kept till date.
“But that has not in anyway deter the young girls from giving their best. They have kept on playing and have been doing very well both in the local league and in the continent,” she said.
She however commended the Edo State government for their efforts in bridging the wage gap between the Edo Queens and Bendel Insurance teams and providing better welfare and health insurance for female footballers.
She stressed that the situation was so bad that some states do not even have a female team which she noted causes a reduction in grassroots talent from those zones in the country.
“Some clubs like Plateau United, Enugu Rangers, and so on, don’t even have a female team and they are non-chalant about it.
“In other climes, clubs have both their male and female teams, so why should the case be different here in Nigeria?
“There was however a recent directive that clubs without female teams won’t be allowed to participate in continental tournaments.
“So, we are hopeful that this will go a long way to help in the development of female league in the country because alot of talents are being wasted,” she said.
She also noted the disparity in coaches salaries, adding that female football coaches earned less than N300,000 compared to over N800, 000 earned by their male counterparts.
The former coach of Bimo Sporting Club, Keffi also advocated for more inclusiveness of women in the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) board and other management positions at both the grassroots and national level.
She noted that elections were done without the females being carried along, adding that there was a need to create an enabling environment for women to participate in the running of the game.
“The women are not being carried along even in the administration of the game.
“When it comes to the NFF, you can see that the situation is the same as only one woman is represented there.
“I am also privileged to be representing the women in the FCT FA Board, but if you go to other states, you will find out that they do not have any female in their respective FA boards.
“This is my third year in the board and I can tell you that I have embarked on alot of female grassroot developmental programmes in the FCT.
“We have discovered several talents and now planning on organizing two more tournaments before the end of the year,” she said.
She also urged the NFF to promote more female coaches as this according to her was an evolving trend amongst other female team in the diaspora. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)