About 15 states of the federation are set to slug it out in a zonal female football championship scheduled to take place in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, between Sunday, 1st July and Saturday, 7th July, 2018.
The tournament, an initiative of the Youth Sports Federation of Nigeria, YSFON, in the South West, is being sponsored by a businessman and philanthropist, Mr Dotun Sanusi, who is the chairman of Ilaji Stadium and Resorts Centre, Akanran, which is the venue of the tournament.
The tournament is tagged Madam Muslimat Abegbe Sanusi Memorial National U-17 Girls Soccer Tournament in honour of Sanusi’s mother, who died 10 years ago.
The National Secretary of YSFON, Mr Patrick Okpavuerhe, said at a press conference, on Monday, in Ibadan, that the championship was in furtherance of a drive to advance the cause of female football in Nigeria.
He described the contests as one of the steps being taken to discover new talents to replace aging legs in the national team.
Okpavuerhe recalled that female football was first introduced in the country by YSFON, the official declaration of which, he said, was done in 1986 in Kano by wife of former military president, the late Mrs Mariam Babangida.
He, however, lamented that female football had been put on the back burner in the country and little attention paid to its development at the grass-roots level.
“Looking at how Nigeria started and how we took Africa by storm, how suddenly we have to struggle now to excel over countries we dominated before raises a lot of concern.
“Female football has suddenly taken the back seat in Nigeria as less attention is given to its development at the grass roots. We cannot expect to be doing things the same way and get different results.
“The current national approach which encourages recycling of players over a long time even when they have passed their prime is worrisome. We must have a deliberate policy of replacing our aging players at all times to give way for fresh legs. The occasion of today, therefore, is one step to discovering new talents to replace the aging legs in our national team,” the YSFON scribe said.
He appealed to the football authorities in the country, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), to take a closer look at YSFON’s activities and give it the necessary support to produce talents that could be invited into the female national teams.