Nearly five months after they emerged victorious at the 2014 Africa Women Championship in Namibia, the Super Falcons are still waiting to be hosted by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The victory in Namibia was the seventh for Nigeria in the history of the AWC, but rather than be celebrated like others ahead of them, the Falcons, besides waiting to be hosted, grapple with unfulfilled promises from the President.
The shabby treatment of the country’s heroines negates the President Goodluck Jonathan Administration much-touted women empowerment where the President constantly peddles 35 per cent affirmative action as one of his successes.
The Falcons often stay in a one star hotel and move without security unlike their male counterparts, who lodge in posh hotels and move with escorts and siren.
The Falcons, nevertheless continually make Nigeria proud with the highest record of successes in the history of Nigerian football.
When the Super Eagles won the Africa Cup of Nations after a 19 year drought, they were celebrated and honoured by the government, corporate bodies and individuals. A private plane conveyed them back to the country amidst pomp and pageantry. On the contrary, the women were quietly dispersed without an acknowledgement or celebration of any form.
Some Nigerians argue that the Super Falcons are not a major football brand in Nigeria like the men’s national team -Super Eagles. Many hope the NFF can do better in packaging the women and turning them into one of their major brands.
President Jonathan has included sports as part of his reforms and last Saturday, the president proudly identified with the many successes of the Falcons during his jogging campaign rally. But to date, neither the president, nor the first lady, Patience Jonathan, has acknowledged the girls for their gallant performance in Namibia.
Shortly after their success at the tournament, the President promised to host the girls. It has been over four months but the girls are still waiting.
The goalkeeper of the Super Falcons, Precious Dede, told PREMIUM TIMES that they are hopeful and still believe they will be hosted.
“We are still waiting and we are believing strongly for as long as the president is concerned, he will host us, he will never forget us,” Dede said.
2015 FIFA World Cup
The Super Falcons will yet again represent Nigeria at this year’s edition of the women’s world cup in Canada and are currently preparing towards this. They have to qualify for the All-African Games and Olympics to represent the Nation once again, but winning and not being recognized can be depressing for the women.
Francisca Ordega, a Super Falcons player, however, told PREMIUM TIMES that the team is focused on the task ahead.
“I have a feeling the President still has us in mind, he can’t forget us. The team has done their best, we won for the nation, you see all of us here, we are happy. We are more focused on the qualifiers, we want to win Mali, and also shine by bringing home the world cup to the country, that is it,” she said.
The Coordinator of Save Our Women football advocacy group, Moses Bako, said it is overdue for the President to host the girl.
“I think it’s long overdue, the President should have hosted them by now. He should also compliment their efforts and now that nothing has been done and they are going to World Cup, appreciating these women will definitely boost their morale,” he said.
An official of the NFF who pleaded anonymity said it is left to the federal Government to host the Falcons since the Federation provided all the necessary logistics and brought home the cup
“We have done our bit as a federation, what else do they want, everything is left to the President and if he likes he can host the girls. It is not in our power to make him do so and he can whatever he deem fit,” the source said.