Nigeria’s women football, basketball teams in disarray ahead major tournaments

ALL is not well with Nigeria’s senior women basketball and football teams ahead of their participation in major international sporting tournaments.

The senior women football team, known as Super Falcons, will feature in the forthcoming 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, billed to kick off on Thursday, July 20 in Australia and New Zealand, two countries which are co-hosting the tournament.

In the same vein, the senior women’s basketball team, knowns as D’Tigress, will represent the country at the AfroBasket (African Basketball) tournament, starting on July 38, in Kigali, Rwanda.

Nigeria’s senior women basketball team, D’Tigress

Ahead of the AfroBasket tournament, the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) had last week announced that it will organise an open camp to select the players that will represent the country in Kigali.

The open camp tryout, according to the NBBF, will hold from July 8 to 11 in three different locations – Chicago, National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, and the Moshood Abiola International Stadium, Abuja.

But less than 18 days to the commencement of the tournament in Kigali, one of D’Tigress’ experienced players, Oderah Chidom, on Monday, July 10, announced her retirement from the Nigeria Women’s basketball team. She cited a “lack of professionalism” on the part of the NBBF for the decision.

In an interview with ESPN, Chidom, who was not pleased with the crisis in Nigerian basketball that led to the withdrawal of the women’s senior national team from the FIBA World Cup in 2022, stressed that the open tryouts were the last straw for her.

D’Tigress ace resigns from team over NBBF ‘open tryouts’

D'Tigress ace Oderah Chidom in her resignation graphics shared via her twitter handle
D’Tigress ace Oderah Chidom in her resignation graphics shared via her twitter handle.

“The trigger for me was seeing an Instagram post of open tryouts in three different locations three weeks before Afrobasket.

“I will not be attending. I don’t think that’s professional at all. I consider myself a professional. And I don’t think it’s okay for me to pay my way to try out for something when I think I have a resume that speaks for itself.

“I have standards of how I conduct business at the professional level, and Nigeria continues to disappoint me,” she said.

Chidom added: “This is a national team. Generally what you do is you invite a group of professionals and you compete in a camp and then the 12 best at that camp get to compete on whatever team and that’s mostly how a national team is conducted.

“I have been blessed to play with a lot of teams where I have seen professionalism from management, and I don’t see those same qualities within our own federation. So to continuously keep coming back to to a federation that I feel does not value me is not worth it.

“I am officially done with national team. I cannot continue to have this added stress in my life. As a team, we try to choose our words very carefully so we do not offend anyone on the federation.

“But personally, I’m done and my purpose of doing this is to shed light on the lack of professionalism within the federation and that it needs to change.”

Reacting to her departure from the national team, NBBF President Musa Kida told ESPN that open tryouts for the national team is not new.

“We did the same thing in 2017 and we raised a team that went on to win the AfroBasket in 2019.

“Not everybody will like the idea, but we are trying to make the best decisions for Nigerian basketball. We have a new coach and we want to rebuild the team.

“Of course we would like to see all the players show up, but we can’t force any one to do so, and it is up to each player to make the decision that is best for them,” he said.

Super Falcons demand World Cup bonuses, threaten to boycott opening match 

As for the national senior women football team, the players, who are currently preparing for the World Cup, are demanding that the leadership of the NFF pay them 30 per cent of the bonuses reportedly given by FIFA to the 32 countries participating in the tournament.

Falcons women football team
Nigeria’s senior women football team, Super Falcons

The demand came on the heels of a revelation by coach Randy Waldrum, who, speaking on the podcast ‘On the Whistle’, said FIFA gave each participating country $960,000 to prepare for the World Cup.

The coach said, “The other side of this is, I have a real close contact in the US that is very connected and on some of the boards at FIFA.

“This person told me, that in October, every country was given $960,000 from FIFA to prepare for the World Cup. Where is that money? If Nigeria got it in October, why didn’t we have a camp in November?”

Angered, the Super Falcons threatened to boycott their opening match against Canada on Friday, July 21, if the NFF fail to meet the demand.

Reacting to the development, NFF media Officer Ademola Olajire, speaking on Channels TV, on Sunday July 9, said the federation had agreed to pay $3,000 per match to the players.

“So there is not going to be any bonus again because we have agreed on $3,000 per match, so if you win your three matches that is $9000.”

Reps move to resolve crisis

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has moved to resolve the faceoff between the Super Falcons and the NFF ahead of the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

In a bid to shelve the boycott, the House of Representatives adopted a motion calling for its urgent intervention in the face-off between the players and the NFF. The motion was moved by Olumide Osoba (APC-Ogun).

Presenting the motion, Osoba said there was need for necessary action to prevent the planned boycott of the FIFA World Cup by the female national football team.

“I am concerned about the potential embarrassment and negative impact on Nigeria’s reputation if the planned protest and boycott proceeds without intervention, as witnessed in previous incidents involving the national female basketball team.

“There are historical instances of non-payment of salaries, allowances, and bonuses, as well as the arbitrary dismissal of players within the Nigerian women’s sports teams.

“The situation is not only embarrassing but also raises serious questions about the treatment of athletes and the overall management of sports in our country.






     

     

    “I am aware that the Super Falcons have threatened to boycott their opening game on July 21, resulting in potential embarrassment for the government and jeopardising Nigeria’s participation in the tournament,” Osoba said.

    The lawmaker noted that the commitment of the female footballers was unquestionable as they had represented Nigeria with honour and achieved remarkable success in international competitions over the years, adding that it was sad that the footballers had been neglected by the authorities leading to low morale.

    The House urged the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to pay the outstanding match bonuses and allowances to the players, ahead of the tournament.

    The Speaker, Tajudeen Abbas, urged the Sports Committee, when inaugurated, to invite the NFF and relevant stakeholders to provide detailed report on the steps taken to resolve the dispute and ensure hitch-free participation of the team at the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

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