Determined to concretise 30 years of women’s football, Nigeria will stage a six- nation international tournament next month in Lagos- the country’s commercial nerve centre.
Named after the country’s First Lady Dr. Aisha Buhari, organisers said the invitational tournament would be an annual event in celebration of the evolution and development of women’s football as well as the celebration of the girl-child.
This year, the crème de la crème of women sides on the continent including South Africa, Mali, Ghana, Cameroon, and Morocco will join hosts Nigeria in the soccer fiesta [September 13th to 21st].
“Not many people reckoned with the fact that women’s football in Nigeria is already 30 years old but it was actually in the mix of conversation about how to celebrate this landmark that the Nigeria Football Federation [NFF] President Amaju Pinnick came up with the idea of hosting a tournament of this magnitude,” Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi, the Local Organisation Committee [LOC] chairman told CAFOnline.com
“We equally found out that our objectives for this tournament aligned with the set objectives with the Future Assured Programme of the First Lady which is basically the promotion of the girl-child, and we have no doubt that football is a perfect medium to promote such ideals.”
Akinwunmi, who doubles as the NFF’s 1st Vice President, said the choice of Lagos is strategic, adding the former Nigeria’s capital city has a vibrant and perfect ambiance for the tournament already dubbed A-B-C [the acronym for Aisha Buhari Cup] by a section of the local media.
“The choice of Lagos as the host of the maiden edition of the Aisha Buhari Cup, is also strategic since the city already has virtually everything in place for a good tournament,” Akinwunmi further told CAFOnline.com.
“Lagos has everything in place as regards accommodation, security, medical facilities and with the on-going renovations at the two stadia [Mobolaji Johnson Arena and Agege Stadium] we are confident of a hitch-free tournament.”
Meanwhile, the draws for the competition which was conducted by Director of Organization Ms Aisha Falode on 18 August at the pristine at the Australia Hall of the Eko Hotel & Suites in Victoria Island [Lagos], pitched the hosts Nigeria in Group A along with Morocco and Mali.
But Group B seemed to be the proverbial ‘group of death’ with Cameroon, Ghana and South Africa.
“Our [Aisha Buhari Cup] draw was difficult. It’s not as easy as it seems,” South Africa women’s national team coach Desiree Ellis admitted. “Ghana has been a powerhouse as well as Cameroon in African football. We cannot take any of the teams lightly.
“We’ve always wanted more women’s football competitions on the continent and this will be a mini Women Africa Cup of Nations. I think this is a start of great things to come for women’s football in Africa.”