By Kingsley Anugwolu
After several months of anxious and excruciating wait for the resumption of the once glorious Nigeria Women Premier League, NWPL, the new league season finally commenced on the 21 May, quenching the yearn of passionate followers and players alike, who have relentlessly petitioned the organizers—the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, for a better managed and sustained women’s league. That trend on social media tagged #SaveTheNWFL , tugged at hearts and showed that Nigerians wanted their league back.
For what started strongly as the Nigeria Female Football Organising association, NIFFOA, in 1978, it was only natural for one to prognosticate that it would blossom in the coming years. But alas! Its development has taken a sudden nosedive in recent memory which consequently, has adversely affected the progress of the country’s women’s national team at all levels.
In a fresh interview with Goal, ex-International, Ifeanyi Chiejine, who during her time with the national team played in two different FIFA Women’s World Cup and two Olympic Games amongst a number of African Women’s Cup of Nations, expressed her displeasure about the plummeting fortunes of the league.
“The state of the Nigeria Women Premier League is already affecting our national teams. The growth of female football in the country is dwindling.” the 33-year-old former striker bitterly submitted.
The necessity for a sustainable and consistent women’s league in the country clearly cannot be over emphasized, having in mind the recent upsurge of other African countries who comparatively, have improved on their league organization.
The Forthcoming FIFA U-20 World Cup—Papua New Guinea
Time and time again, the country has proofed a force to be reckoned with in age grade tournaments and the Falconets have had a decent share of good fortune since the tournament’s maiden edition in 2002—coming second runners-up in two occasions and third place, just once. Traditionally, tournaments as these are often flooded by homegrown talents who ply their trade in the beleaguered Nigeria Women Football League. This therefore screams for better organization in the dealings of the NFF if the country is looking to crack their near-champion jinx of 14 years.
Africa Women Cup of Nations In November
The Super Falcons are by a far margin, the most successful female national team on the continent which is lucidly evident in the number of silverwares scooped already on the African terrain—winning the senior biannual soccer show for a record nine times. However, despite the country’s monstrous statistics on the continent, it would be the height of self-deceit if we are to believe we still carry the fear factor personage of the good old days when the Falcons were clothed in invincibility (which was an instant aftermath of a Women’s league that was well coordinated).
“…All I can say is plead with the Nigeria Football Federation and other corporate bodies to rescue women’s football in the country, returning it to what it used to be in the past when we were invincible. In the 90s, we had a strong league that discovered players like me” Ifeanyi Chiejine added.
Hence, the need to rejuvenate and revive our dear NWpL could not have come in a more pressing period especially with both the Africa Women Cup of Nations and FIFA U-20 Championship set to run concurrently.
Need To Discover More Talents
Unarguably, Nigeria is the most blessed black nation in the continent of Africa with a myriad of endless talent; From Asisat Oshoala to Esther Sunday to Ifeanyi Chiejine—the list is endless. Thus, the NWPL has been immensely pivotal to the discovery of these talents which is the more reason why we must not shy away from the nagging significance of a sustained women’s league.
The result will be to avoid relegating the old age tradition of sourcing local talents who are active participants in a working league system .