In Benin, NWFL Super Four points way forward for women football

Edo State Deputy Governor, Phillip Shaibu (sixth right), Nasarawa State Deputy Governor, Silas Agera (fifth left), NFF board members and other officials during the presentation of the Super Four Championship trophy and N3 million top prize to Nasarawa Amazons at the end of the competition in Benin…at the weekend.

Many football lovers from across Nigeria and some neighbouring countries thronged the Sam Ogbemudia Stadium Benin to witness the final of what was advertised as the first concrete steps to the renaissance of women football in Nigeria.

Featuring the four best teams in the just-concluded Nigerian Women Professional League (NWPL), including Rivers Angels, Delta Queens, Nasarawa Amazons and Bayelsa Queens, the Super Four was seen as another step by the Aisha Falode-led league body to redirect the women game to the height the country’s abundant talents deserve.

The women league has been running without sponsors, including title rights owner, among other things, but Falode and her board has embarked on restructuring the administration and image of the league to get genuine investors to bank on it. Fans and followers of the game, who were in Benin for the one-week competition, said the body has, to an extent, been able to change peoples’ perception of the game through certain policies aimed at ensuring the elevation of the women league. And so on that premise, many fans went to see things for themselves in Benin.

With the help of the Edo State government, the NWFL Super Four kicked off with Delta Queens registering the first major upset of the competition when they beat Rivers Angels 2-0 on the opening day. Nasarawa Amazons also beat Bayelsa Queens to set the tone for an entertaining competition.

The Queens from Nasarawa eventually won the title by beating Delta Queens 1-0 on Friday to confirm that their regular season victory was no fluke. Elated by the performances of the teams at the competition and the accolades from fans at the end of the event, NWFL Chairperson, Aisha Falode said the Super Four Championship has demonstrated that Nigerians can “make things work if given a good environment.”

The administrator is talking up fresh innovations and listing her goals to improve the standard of the country’s women’s football league. She reiterated her board’s commitment to taking the women’s game to a new level.

She said: “We are being guided by the confidence reposed on us by Nigerians that is why we have set a tone that will give credence to our promise at our last Congress.

“That means everything must run as scheduled to build sponsors confidence in the league. Bring spectators back to the stands, make the league competitive and create an ambiance that will be great for the game. Fair officiating, Players welfare and wages is of utmost priority, Bring fans back to the stadium.

“Expose the different levels of activation and leverage opportunities to different categories of intending sponsors and partners.

“On the long run, build trust and a credible product that will attract affinity with a specific brand and help build a sustainable and viable structure for the women’s league.”

Falode also thanked the Edo State government for “graciously accepting to be our host and helping us to lay the path for a new lease of life for women football in Nigeria.”

Off the pitch, it was joy for the victorious Nasarawa Amazons and regrets for the rejuvenated Delta Queens, who lost the title by the lowest of margins.

Speaking on her team’s success, Nasarawa Amazons’ Amarachi Okoronkwo said her side’s Federation Cup crash inspired them to win the Nigeria Women Premier League title.

Okoronkwo’s 42nd minute strike was all the Christopher Danjuma-led ladies required to pip Delta Queens to the title. And the forward is optimistic securing Nasarawa’s winning goal will open more doors in her career as she aims for foreign deals in days to come.

“I feel good and very happy scoring the goal that helps my team win,” Okoronkwo said. “Delta Queens played well against us and they were a very good team but it is unfortunate they lost as it was not their day.

“I expected I will score because before leaving the hotel for the match, I told myself that I must score a goal for my team and it came to past. When my teammate sent the cross to me, I positioned myself to head the ball into the net.”

She revealed that the “Nasarawa State government promised us a lot if we win a trophy for them and I’m happy we have fulfilled our own promise to them.

“Well, when we were out of the Federation Cup, it really pained us but it gingered us to do everything to win the Super Four. We really worked hard to lift this trophy from January to this point. Our team spirit, self-motivation, and unity helped us a lot to get this far.”



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