By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde
Sports Writer, kick442.com Nigeria
Sports lawyer and women empowerment activist, Dr Victoria Nlemigbo Esq. has rated the Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL) high under Chairperson, Aisha Falode.
The child rights activist in an exclusive interview with www.kick442.com asserted that the NWFL board under Falode has done tremendous work.
“In looking at how Aisha Falode has fared in managing the Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL) over the years, one will have to look at where she started and where she is now and in between to be able to get the answers to these questions. She came in when the situation of the women’s league in Nigeria was at best non-existent which one can imagine.
“Looking at what she has done from when she took over to where we are now on a scale of 1/10, I will give her 9.9. I am leaving out the 0.1 because there is no perfection in anything in life. Going by the efforts she has made, the innovations she has brought in, the results she has achieved, the benefits enjoyed by the players, the standard of the game, and the improvements she has brought. With the support that she has garnered from sponsors, government, and football administration and structure in Nigeria I doff my hat for Aisha Falode. She has done very well.” She told www.kick442.com.
In January 2017, Aisha Falode was inaugurated by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) as the head of the Nigeria Women Football League, the body that organizes the Nigeria Women’s Premier League (NWFL).
“Nigeria is not an easy place. She has been dogged even when she had to push an airplane or truck without tyres or tubes. I am very impressed and happy for the NWFL despite the fact that it’s still a work in the mills, it’s a continuous process but she has laid a very good foundation and continued to the blocks one after the other. I am extremely happy with her efforts and indeed the results she has achieved. I am looking forward to more achievements and improvements because she actually laid the foundation. Very soon, our women’s league in Nigeria will become a cynosure of all eyes because very many prospective sponsors would be struggling to be part of it.” Dr. Victoria continued.
The NWFL has rebranded under the leadership of Aisha Falode with the three (3) leagues rechristened NWFL Premiership (top flight), NWFL Championship (second tier), and NWFL Nationwide (third tier).
Irrespective of her achievements including two (2) sponsors for the league, one dying the regular season and another sponsor for the NWFL Premiership Super Six last season, some advocates still question how she emerged as NWFL Chairperson in an appointive manner.
“Without negating the achievements she has made and the results achieved with the standards she has created plus the prospect of what she has done going forward, the general effect of that on women’s football, it is very important that the truth should always be told. If the statutory provisions of how the head of NWFL should be brought in, an election should hold. If the NWFL Constitution or the association says there should be an election, then that is a press that should be considered.
“In the current statute now, she was selected to do a job which is to position women league in the best possible way during the period. If you ask me, I will tell you that in Africa right now, Nigeria Women League stands out. Definitely, there is a lot to be done going forward but where we are now is enviable because of Aisha Falode. A time will come because I think what she has done now is put the standard firmly and make it interesting going forward. Once the foundation has been properly laid out, a time will come definitely when the groups that are involved in the NWFL should be able to choose who will run the league. There should be an election but should it be now or later would depend on the standard of the association to run a free and fair election.
If there should be an election, then there should be an election at some point but believe me because of what she has achieved and the visions she has for the NWFL, I will say let her continue but then she is also a standard bearer and I believe that she will not be unaware of what is right in this particular instance. When the time is ripe and right, I will suggest that that election should be held.” Says Dr. Victoria Nlemigbo Esq.
Barrister Victoria Nlemigbo Esq. also pointed out the gray areas which should be attended to in the league despite the tremendous success achieved under Aisha Falode.
She said: “There is no perfection as nothing has been achieved that there would not be a need for an improvement. Despite all the strides that she has made, the NWFL is still evolving. It’s evolving in the sense that standards are being set. There is a need to encourage the corporate bodies and sector to get involved in owning and running clubs and encourage very rich individuals in the country to be involved in owning clubs. At the moment, almost 99.9% of the clubs that are currently playing in the league are owned by the government and this affects the league adversely from time to time because these state governments change from time to time and when people who are not interested in sports or who don’t see why women should be playing football come on board, they just lose interest. This will see the clubs fluctuating from high to low from low to high. That is an area where a lot of work needs to be done.
“In the area of salaries, players’ welfare, and the interest of the girls, those areas are still like greenhorns. In the area of players’ contracts for instance, where the clubs and managers will just jam something together and point fingers at the girls without knowing what they are signing. A situation where they would have written that somebody is earning 100,000 Naira a month and then at the end of the month, she will be given 20,000 or 30,000 Naira. These are things and areas that are very important. Players welfare, contract, insurance, health, victimization, assault, and harassment.”
Dr. Victoria Nlemigbo is the founder of the Women Football All-Stars Association of Nigeria and life long fan of the English Premier League side, Arsenal Football Club.
She served as the General Coordinator of the 2021 Flying Officers Cup (the biggest women’s football pre-season tournament in Africa), a member of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Football Association for ten (10) years, head of Women’s Football FCT FA for ten years, and a member of Nigeria Football Coaches Association amongst other football related engagements.
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