Women’s Football In Nigeria Has Had A Long History Of Defiance

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There is an ongoing campaign to empower members of the Nigerian women’s football team to earn decent wages as their male counterparts. The latest effort comes from Desire Oparanozie, who served as the women’s team captain. Her campaign aims at empowering female players to claim their rightful equal pay as males. During the 2019 World Cup, Oparanozie rallied her team members to engage in a sit-in, noting that the male Nigerian players were paid significantly more than the females.

The African continent has seen a rise in women’s football. The Confederation for African Football seeks to tap into this popularity by introducing club competitions that will enhance the sport’s growth. Nigeria’s national women’s football team, otherwise known as The Super Falcons, is Africa’s most dominant women’s team winning 11 out of 13 championships.

The Super Falcons are the current champions, having won the latest edition that was held in 2018. However, there are concerns that the team does not get as much attention as the men’s team. Nevertheless, since the game’s inception in Nigeria, the spirit to fight for the team’s rights and a better working environment has been visible.

A History of Protest

The fight for equal rights dates back to the British invasion. According to Ifi Amadiume, an anthropologist, and Oyeronke Oyewumi, a renowned gender scholar in Nigeria, Nigeria was a ‘genderless’ country where individuals were assigned roles regardless of their gender. The entry of civilization came with a division of labor culture where work was allocated based on gender. This led to the 1929 women’s protests in Southern Nigeria. Such demonstrations are still active to date, and they have influenced the women footballers in the country as well.

While football was introduced in the 1800s, women only began to play in the 1930s. However, the colonial administration was not in full support, and some white extremists threatened to cancel the matches on grounds where women were scheduled to play. The women grew defiant and went on to play in stadiums that were not under the colonial mandate. The sport saw significant growth in the 1970s and 1980s, and even women players began joining clubs. In 1991, the Nigeria Football Association acknowledged women’s football and enlisted the national team for the women’s World Cup launched in the same year.

Protest Today

The recognition of women’s football and their enlistment to the World Cup can only be termed as an end to a single phase of the struggle. The female teams are involved in several competitions, but they still face other obstacles, the main one being poor remuneration. As the former captain puts it, there are huge disparities between men and women regarding wages. Because of these remarks, Oparanozie was relieved of her duties as the team captain. She was also not part of the team during the latest FIFA Women’s World Cup preparation. During her tenure, she staged boycotts, stand-offs and denied renegotiations to compel the football authorities to increase their pay.

Issues like equal pay and misogyny against women in football are not only prevalent in Nigeria but also in Western countries. A survey carried out among women in football in 2020 showed that two-third of the majority has experienced sexism.

While the relevant authorities are making strides towards solving these issues, more women are choosing to play virtual games where the competition and rewarding systems are fair.

Video games like FIFA or eFootball are examples of a fair reward system. The anonymity of playing online masks whether the player is male/female, young/old or their nationality. This effectively diminishes prejudice, meaning women can enjoy themselves and compete for the same prizes as their male counterparts.

Other games that follow this model are that of mobile games like Candy Crush or even casino games. In this regard, they are inclusive for all genders and are available to play in the comfort of your own home. Playing at online casinos gives you access to a wide range of casino bonuses, including welcome offers, deposit bonuses, and no deposit bonuses. Moreover, the sites are regulated to ensure you receive all your winnings. For football fans, there are visual FIFA tournaments where you can compete with other online players.

There is a global need for significant change to the way women footballers are supported. While there is no denying that women’s football is growing in popularity, the game is still fighting for survival. Top issues that must be looked into include gender inequality, low pay, and career stagnation in this field. All stakeholders, including FIFA, CAF, National Associations, and public policymakers should show their commitment to eliminating gender inequality. The first step is ensuring that women have access to decent pay and fair working conditions to help them pursue their professional football careers.

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