Spirits are buzzing with excitement in anticipation of the official launch of the 2023 edition of the Betsy Obaseki Women’s Football Tournament (BOWFT).
The preseason tournament will be celebrating its third anniversary as it kicks off on Monday, 23rd October, and is scheduled to round off on Wednesday, 1st November, with all matches slated to take place in four major sports facilities in Edo State, including the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, the University of Benin Sports Complex, the Western Boys Mini-Stadium and the Edo State College of Nursing and Health Sciences Mini-Stadium.
The participating teams were drafted into their respective groups during the tournament draw ceremony which took place on Friday, 20th October, at the Presidential Villa, Government House, Benin City. the Edo State capital.
The ceremony featured an enthralling rendition of the tournament’s Theme Song by the LXX Choral, as well as the official unveiling of the Tournament’s Mascot called Bluejay by the designer Tony Ifemije.
Her Excellency, Mrs Betsy Obaseki, the First Lady of Edo State graced the occasion alongside special guests including the Executive Chairman of the Edo State Sports Commission, Yusuf Alli, and the former Chairman of the Edo State Football Association (ESFA), Frank Ilaboya.
In her opening remark, the First Lady noted that the BOWFT is solely a private sector-driven event, and has continued to receive increased private sector sponsorship attaining global recognition, which will ensure that the tournament is sustained beyond 2024.
Whilst addressing all guests and stakeholders gathered at the event, Her Excellency Mrs. Betsy Obaseki emphasized the relevance of the annual tournament as a platform for the growth and empowerment of young girls all over the country, and the development of grassroots sports in Edo State and Nigeria in general.
Betsy Obaseki said most of the clubs participating in the pre-season tournament play in the top female league in Nigeria except two others amateur teams from Edo State brought in to be groomed, trained and exposed.
The First Lady of Edo State, who received the trophy won by Edo Queens at the 6th edition of the Sheroes Cup organized by Ratels Sports Development Foundation, Abuja, rewarded the female team with N1 million, charging them to ensure that they win the third edition of BOWFT in Benin City.
As a corollary to the foregoing, Mrs. Obaseki highlighted the efforts of Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki towards the eradication of human trafficking and illegal migration and went further to note the congruity of the competition towards enforcing the objectives of this campaign.
With the goal of combating prevalent societal vices across all strata of the society, the tournament will also feature special seminars on the side where speakers are invited to give lectures on topics designed to impact young Nigerian women. This has been the standard tradition so far ever since the tournament’s inception with the first edition featuring a lecture on “Promoting the Girl-Child.” The second tournament was subtitled “Fight Against Drug Abuse”, and this year’s tourney has been themed “End Gender-Based Violence”.
Furthermore, the recognition of the Betsy Obaseki Women Football Tournament by FIFA, which is the highest governing body of international football, is sure to boost the tournament to even greater heights beyond the national level, as the organisers continue to work towards the sustainable growth and development of the tournament.
The official camp for the tournament opens on Sunday, 22nd October, for the participating teams to settle in and get prepared ahead of their respective opening games.
The Chairman, Communications Sub-Committee for the tournament, Crusoe Osagie, has assured that everything has neen made ready to ensure an exciting event that is sure to thrill the local sporting fans.
“All is set for the hosting of the competition, known for its eclectic atmosphere. The participating teams will be arriving in Benin City tomorrow, Sunday, October 22, 2023. All the required facilities have been put in place as the participating team will be received on arrival on the same day at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium,” Crusoe affirmed.
Crusoe further expressed, “We are ready to receive the participating teams, officials, spectators, and visitors alike. Fans and supporters are eager to throng the tournament venues, ready to cheer their teams to victory. Local businesses, hotels, restaurants, and transportation services, among others, are all set to benefit from the event which promises to be an unforgettable sporting spectacle.”
Thirteen prominent teams from the Nigeria Women’s Football League (NWFL) will be participating in the upcoming event and have been drawn into four groups for the group stage of the tournament. The top two teams from each group will progress into the Quarter Finals.
The host team, Edo Queens FC, will face off against Remo Stars Ladies, and the Naija Ratels, led by Onome Ebi, the captain of the Super Falcons in Group A.
Group B features 2022 semifinalists Bayelsa Queens, alongside the Confluence Queens, and the Nasarawa Amazons.
The defending champions FC Robo Queens, Heartland Queens, Rivers Angels, and Fortress Ladies of the NWFL Championship will battle it out in Group C, and NWFL Champions Delta Queens, Ekiti Queens, and Osun Babes square off against each other in Group D. The teams will be competing for a 60million naira cash prize.
The female Football teams in this year’s tournament are representing Nasarawa, Edo, Bayelsa, Lagos, Ekiti, Ogun, Imo and Osun States.
The opening ceremony will take place at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium on Monday, 23rd October.