Pioneers of women’s football development in the country have been eulogized for their commitment to raising the standard of the game .
The Minister of Youth and Sports Solomon Dalung praised the women’s football pioneers when he received a FIFA delegation on the Women’s World Cup trophy tour in his office yesterday in Abuja
He welcomed the FIFA team comprising Sarai Bareman, Nichole Fisch, Venessa Marques and FIFA Legend Osaze Peter Odemwingie to the Nigeria leg of the Women’s World Cup Trophy Tour and remarked that no country on the African continent can appreciate the significance of the FIFA Women’s World Cup more than Nigeria.
“Nigeria is the only country in Africa to have participated in every edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup since it was launched in China in 1991. Nigeria is in a special class of only seven countries globally to have achieved that. Our Super Falcons are also the only team to win nine out of eleven African Women’s Championships since it started in 1988”.
Dalung who was represented by the Acting Permanent Secretary Mrs Hauwa Kulu Akinyemi also paid glowing tributes to Princess Bola Jegede, late Mrs Simbiat Abiola, Elder Eddington Kuejubola, Alhaja Ayo Omidiran, Larry Eze and Prince Oladimeji amongst many others, for their noble role in spurring the development of the women’s game in the country.
“Credit must be given to the real pioneers of the women’s game in Nigeria including Chief Abisuga who put together a competition in Lagos in 1982 for young girls in the metropolis and improved upon by Princess Jegede when she organised the first National Women’s Football Championship at the National Stadium Lagos in 1984.
“The government of Nigeria recognizes the pivotal role of football in unifying people across various physical and mental divides, creating Joy, love and passion among the youth”.
The Minister however pledged government’s commitment to supporting the development of football in all ramifications in the country.
Earlier, the FIFA leader of delegation Sarai Bareman expressed delight in the level of government’s support for the women’s game.
“I’m touched by the level of support from the government and other sporting organizations in Nigeria who have been helpful to the women’s game. This is a shining example and the key to the success of the Super Falcons.
“The Super falcons are incredible athletes having qualified to be one of the 24 teams out of 211 FIFA countries. Despite the fact that the Super Falcons have always qualified for the World Cup, we have to recognize that it is a huge deal to qualify for the World Cup.
“We hope that by bringing the trophy to Nigeria, the young girls will be inspired to play for the National teams and probably win the World Cup some day.”
The FIFA Women’s World Cup Trophy was later unveiled by FIFA legend, Osaze Odemwingie .
According to Bareman, the trophy cannot be touched with bare-hands except with gloves apart from players from countries that have won the World Cup or the President of a country that has won the World Cup.
Beneath the trophy is engraved, the names of all the previous FIFA Women’s World Cup winners.
The trophy weighs approximately 5kg and stands at 46cm
In attendance was the NFF President who was represented by the 1st Vice President Seyi Akinwunmi, the President of the Nigeria Paralympic Committee, Brigadier General Emico Eruwa and a representative of the Nigeria Olympic Committee.