I can make Nigeria Women League attractive – Irabor
Since soft drink giant, Pepsi, pulled out of the sponsorship of Nigeria female league about 14 years ago, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has been battling fruitlessly to get a replacement.
In the past, players from Cameroun, Ghana, Senegal, DR Congo and Equatorial Guinea plied their trade in various clubs in Nigeria. That was when female football in the country was a force to reckon with in the continent of Africa.
One of the players who enjoyed the good days of Nigeria women league to hit limelight is the current assistant coach of the Lioness of Cameroun, Bernadette Anong.
Anong, a former captain of the Lioness featured for clubs like Pelican Stars of Calabar, Rivers Angels of Port Harcourt, Delta Queens of Asaba and Capital Queens of Abuja. Those were the good days when sponsors were scrambling to be part of the league.
But the situation has since nose-dived, living behind harvest of poor performance, especially by the senior team, Super Falcons who now struggle to qualify for continental championships.
While the South Africa women’s football, which commenced their women’s league a few years ago, has a whopping $1m take off grant, with a promise of a yearly $2m for five years, it has been the same old story of no funding for the women league in Nigeria.
The situation is worrisome for the Chief Operating Officer of the League Management Company (LMC), Nduka Irabor.
Speaking with The Guardian at the Onikan stadium, Lagos on Wednesday when Ikorodu United hosted Warri Wolves in the NPFL match, which ended 1-0 in favour of the home side, Irabor declared that he could turn around the fortune of Nigeria women football.
The women league has been operating without a sponsor for over a decade, but Irabor says things could look better if only the right personnel were appointed to manage the league.
“I always feel so bad whenever I see people lamenting the poor state of women football league in the country,” Irabor said.
According to Irabor, getting sponsors for the women league may not be as difficult as people think. “First, a sponsor wants who they can trust before they can strike a deal. They want someone who can understand their language and method of operation. It is the same thing with the male league.
“There are so many corporate organisations in Nigeria that deal on women related commodities. They always scramble for sponsorship when it comes to supporting Nollywood events in the country. They will have more mileage in sponsoring women football league in Nigeria, but as I said, the personnel must be trustworthy. I remember what we went through at the beginning of the struggle for sponsorship for the male league. It won’t take me long time to fix the problem of sponsorship in the women league,” Irabor stated.
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