A Board member of the Nigerian Football Federation and the immediate past Chairperson of Nigeria Women’s Football League (NWFL), Aisha Falode, on Tuesday got all-round praises as she accounted for her leadership of the Nigerian Women Football League from 2017-2022.
At an event tagged, ‘Brunch Meet Up With Aisha’, at the Radisson Hotel in Lagos, Falode said the event, which coincided with her first anniversary as an elected board member in the board of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), was an opportunity to thank everyone that believed in her capacity and contributed in her steady rise from her days in the media to being a top level football administrator in Nigeria.
Falode, a one-time Member of the Media Committee in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) told the elite gathering that the growth of the NWFL during her tenure between 2017 and 2022 would not have been possible without the support of critical football stakeholders, most of who were at the event.
“It was in this same hall I started with a congregation of Sports Editors seeking your support as I took on the leadership of the NWFL and I am here again to render account of my service after leaving the NWFL”.
The guests included immediate past NFF President and FIFA Council Member, Amaju Pinnick; former NFF 1st Vice President, Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi; former Green Eagles captain, Chief Segun Odegbami; CEO of Brila FM, Dr Larry Izamoje; AIPS President (Africa) Mitchel Obi; former Nigeria international and one-time Chairman of the Lagos State Football Association Waidi Akanni.
President of the Sports Editors Guild & Group Sports Editor Vanguard, Tony Ubani, Sports Editor Sporting Life, Ade Ojeikere, Chairman of Sporting Lagos, Godwin Ehakhena, Convener of the Ladies In Sports (LIS) Ms Tega Onajaife, Media Officer of The Super Falcons, Mrs Oluchi Tobe-Chukwu and a host of top Sports Editors and dignitaries.
“There were many challenges when we came on board in 2017 because there was no genuine administrative and governance structures, and no calendar for the Women’s League. With determination, we were able to turn many things around,” Falode told her audience.
“The biggest challenge we had was teams not honouring their matches even home games because they didn’t have the funds to pay for indemnity of match officials.
“Right from the beginning and throughout my five-year tenure at the NWFL, we promptly paid indemnity of match officials and this brought credibility to women’s football.
We would not have achieved much without the support of the NFF led by Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick.”
Mr Pinnick, the immediate past President of the NFF, saw my capacity and gave me the platform and total support to add value to Nigeria’s football, especially the women’s game.
She praised the efforts of Tulcan Energy and MTN as well as governments of Lagos, Edo and Bayelsa States for their support for women’s football, adding that she was guided by FIFA’s five pillars of women’s football development.
“Of course, we did our best because we used FIFA’s template in our drive to develop the game and the girl-child through football,” she said. “Over 90 percent of players in the Super Falcons today are products of the NWFL and we are proud of their achievements, home and abroad, for clubs and our national teams.
“We had about 7 or 8 players at the Women’s World Cup in France in 2019. These domestic players proved themselves and promptly moved to foreign clubs due to their performance even before the World Cup ended. The likes of Rasheedat Ajibade, Chidinma Okeke, Chiamaka Nnadozie were worthy ambassadors of the NWFL.
“Everyone can see that women’s football in Nigeria is now in the upward swing, judging by recent performance, especially at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand where the Super Falcons shook every team they came across”.
Former NFF President Pinnick said Falode’s giant strides at the NWFL did not come as a surprise because she was not only competent but she was a goal-getter.
“It’s only a person like Aisha that can bring me out for an occasion such as this,” said Pinnick, who flew in from Accra.
“I’m on a FIFA assignment but I had to excuse myself to be part of this occasion because she has made so much sacrifice for Nigerian football and NWFL in particular.”
Barrister Akinwunmi said Falode deserved praises for her drive in ensuring that women’s football is kept in the front burner during her tenure at NWFL.
Both Odegbami and Izamoje said Falode has been a breath of fresh air since her days in the media, long before her foray into football administration.
Prominent Super Falcons, including Barcelona forward Asisat Oshoala, eulogised Falode for her immense achievements over the years, through recorded video messages played at the event. Gift Monday, Glory Ogbonna, Rasheedat Ajibade, Chiamaka Nnadozie were full of praises for Falode and were thankful to have played in the NWFL Premiership when Falode headed it.
Falode rendered account of her transformational stewardship which led to interventions like standardising club licensing to CAF levels, compulsory insurance of players, players’ welfare, facility inspections, prize money for the league, La Liga Partnership, title Sponsors for Super 6, and financial reward for front shirt advertisements.
She was also thankful to former board members of the NFF and the President of the Nigeria Football Federation Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau who recognised her transformational input in the NWFL, and accorded her the honour of recommending the present Chairperson of the NWFL Ms Nkechi Obi to consolidate on the solid structures laid in the NWFL.
“The league is a continuum and every support should be given to the NWFL.
Women should support women in every endeavour of leadership as the League is ours Falode concluded.