Women Football Clubs Set For 2021 Flying Officers Cup
By Lekan Sowande, Abuja.
Sixteen Women football Club, including two foreign teams will from October 10-24 storm Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city to participate in the third edition of the 2021 Flying Officer’s Cup tournament.
The tournament was conceived to immortalize the late Nigeria Air Force (NAF) officer, Tolulope Arotile, who distinguished herself as a combat flight officer.
The Late Arotile was the first female combat helicopter pilot in the Nigeria Military who died in an accident at the Nigeria Airforce base Kaduna on July 14, 2020.
Organisers of the football competition, led by Paul Edeh, who is also the founder of the Ratels Women Football Club, said the competition is geared towards providing pre-season training opportunity for women football clubs within Nigeria and beyond.
Edeh further revealed that the organisers received over 20 applications from various reputable women clubs within and outside Nigeria, and that only 16, one each from Ghana and Benin Republic have been chosen to participate.
“Last year, we had eight teams that participated but this year, we have 16 teams already,” Edeh said. “The most interesting part with this year’s edition is that we have two teams from the African nations of Ghana and Benin Republic that have also indicated interest to participate.”
On the preparation for the competition, Edeh said that the foundation has earmarked over N50 million to enhance the welfare of the participants.
“For those that are participating from outside Nigeria, we are ready to double their price money if they finish at any of the positions,” Edeh added. “This is to also give them certain level of leverage to win the competition because they have to travel longer distance to be able to make it.”
Compared with the 2nd edition, which featured eight teams, he said that this edition would have a mixture of teams from the Premier, Championship and Nationwide leagues competing for honours.
Already, three facilities; the Goals Project at Package B of the MKO Stadium, Area 3 Football pitch and Aguinyi Ironsi Cantonment facility have been secured for the competition.
He explained that for first time the four teams that finish tops in the competition would win prizes ranging from N1 million, N500,000 , N300,000 and N200,000 respectively.
The Ratels sports CEO also said the football event has received the highest endorsement from the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), with a special commendation letter from the management of Nigeria Women Football League (NWPL).
Edeh, a seasoned football administrator and philanthropist, called on spirited Nigerians and corporate bodies to rally round and support the competition.
Also speaking, the General Manager of the tournament, Victoria Nlemigbo, who gave details on how the tournament format has been designed, said top women clubs in the country and others in the second tier will be taking part.
Some of the top clubs in Nigeria she said include perenial NWPL winners Rivers Angels, Bayelsa Queens, Edo Queens, Nasarawa Amazons, Delta Queens, Champions of 2021 NWFL Championship Naija Ratels (now promoted to the Women Premier League).