As the Super Falcons of Nigeria continue their preparation for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup opener against Canada in their group stage match on Friday, July 21 amidst significant challenges, it is pertinent to explore the root cause of the major crisis confronting the eight-time African Champions as a way of supporting women’s football development.
The determination of the team to succeed must also be appreciated.
The onus lies with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and concerned stakeholders to speedily meet their obligations to the team, as a way of demonstrating their commitment to football development and laying a proper foundation for a brighter future, where the Super Falcons and other Nigerian national soccer teams can blossom and inspire future generations.
The Super Falcons have represented Nigeria proudly and to good effect at the highest level, achieving resounding success, especially at the Continental level. Despite their exploits, they still face major challenges as they try to scale yet another hurdle to fly the Nigerian flag high at the forthcoming Women’s World Cup competition.
The issue of unpaid bonuses has become a constant menace that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) must tackle to give the Super Falcons the motivation and morale to perform at their optimum potential.
Just recently, it was reported that the Super Falcons planned to boycott their opening match against Canada in response to an ongoing dispute regarding the cancellation of their match bonuses. Recall it’s not the first such unpaid allowance and bonus episode would result in a protest by the team.
However, the recent report revealed the squabble between the Super Falcons players and the Football Federation body after the General Secretary of the NFF, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, explained to the Super Falcons that NFF has cancelled their match bonuses for the Women’s World Cup.
On that note, the Super Falcons’ head coach, Randy Waldrum in two separate interviews, accused NFF of failing to give the Super Falcons adequate preparation for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and attempting to influence his choice of players, as well as cancellation of a preparation camp, just weeks before the team travelled to Australia and New Zealand due to lack of funds. The Federation in response, through its spokesperson, blasted the Super Falcons Coach for being an incompetent, loudmouthed blabbermouth.
In a swift response to NFF’s failure to pay the Super Falcons their match bonuses and allowances – following a motion by Hon. Olumide Osoba, the House of Representatives in a resolution at plenary, stated that it would set up an Ad-hoc Committee to investigate the dispute between the Super Falcons of Nigeria and the NFF, and recommend fundamental reforms to forestall the planned protest and boycott of the team at the Women’s World Cup.
Interestingly, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Technical Director, Augustine Eguavoen said the Super Falcons head coach, Randy Waldrum, has apologised for his recent pre-World Cup comments against the federation body (NFF). Notwithstanding, Waldrum has kept his post, regardless of the brush. Eguavoen claimed the 66-year-old has realised his mistakes and they have resolved the issue.
However, Waldrum has retained his position and will lead Nigeria at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup which begins July 21 in Australia and New Zealand. Nigeria is drawn in Group B with co-hosts Australia, Canada and the Republic of Ireland,
For the Super Falcons to represent Nigeria and flourish as expected, the Nigerian Football Federation should prioritise the welfare of the players to ensure their readiness not just for the Women’s World Cup contest, but for all subsequent national football tournaments.