Akinwunmi sees Nigerian women’s football brighter as Amusan, Icheen and others win Sheroes awards
It was a moment of pomp and blitz at the Sheroes Awards 2022 ceremony, when outstanding Nigerians were honored in spectacular fashion, in keeping with their many achievements and contributions to the development of women’s sport.
At the event held inside the prestigious Merit House Maitama Abuja, many sports personalities from all walks of life gathered in a relaxed party atmosphere.
In a keynote address, the outgoing First Vice President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Barr. Seyi Akinwunmi, who stayed in the past, expressed her optimism that women’s football in Nigeria and part of the world “is the next big thing”.
Rod. Akunwunmi, who was the special guest of honor at the event, said, “
Women’s football is the next big thing, we just had our recent trophy at world level in women’s football. I am particularly proud for many reasons. For us to understand where we are going, we must understand where we have come from.
“The Women’s Super League in the UK started in 2010. Today we have players earning huge amounts of money. We had 11 million people watching the World Cup finals. Five years ago, the highest attendance in women’s football was 3,000.
“We recently had over 60,000 people watching Barcelona v Atletico Madrid. Agencies have started to take a particular interest in the game. We can win the World Cup if we take advantage of what we have.
“Many companies want to invest in women’s football. They arrive in Nigeria. These organizations are ready to pour money into women’s football.
Also speaking, one of the winners and NFF board member, Rt. Hon. Margaret Icheen, while revealing how she rose from grass to grace in her chosen career, urged young footballers to be focused and determined.
Rt. Hon Icheen won the Sheroes Lifetime Achievement Award.
Host and President of the Ratels Sports Development Foundation (RSDF), Barr. Paul Edeh, said passion remained her driving force in her determination to contribute to the development of women’s football in Nigeria and beyond.
Rod. Edeh, whose Foundation sponsors the ongoing Sheroes Cup, an annual pre-season tournament, assured the competition and prize giving will continue to improve.
He clarified that those who were honored at the event obtained it on the basis of merit and that the Foundation did not receive any gratuity in exchange for the award.
“I have always wanted to contribute to the improvement of society, especially women. It hasn’t been easy, but my team and I are always invested and motivated to do what we do.
“Everyone, regardless of status, should do their part to make our society a better and safer place to live,” he said.
A total of 12 individuals and organizations were honored at the event.
Among them, sensational Nigerian sprinter and world record holder Tobi Amusan as Sheroe of the Year, reigning African Footballer of the Year and Nigerian Super Falcons striker Asisat Oshoala as African Footballer Sheroe of the year.
Nigerian Flamingos head coach Bankole Olowookere, whose team won bronze at the 2022 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, named Sheroe Sports Icon of the year, as did the wife of the governor of Edo State Ms. Betsy Obaseki became the Sheroe Trailblazer of the Year.
Other winners are Super Falcons player Monday Gift (Sheroe Women Football Rising Star of the Year), Ms Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe (Sheroe Capital Achievement Award) and Coach Emmanuel Osahon (Sheroe Women Football Talent Developer of the Year ).
Additionally, Ruqayyah Adeboye (Sheroe Humanitarian of the Year), Nelly Orisakwe (Sheroe Women Football Grassroots Coach of the Year) and Ayisat Yusuf-Aromire (Sheroe Girl-Child Advocate of the Year) received the awards.
There was also a posthumous award for the late Alhaji Tewogboye Oyewole as the pioneer Sheroe of women’s football in Nigeria.
The Lagos State Football Association went on to win Sheroe Most Outstanding Women Football Development FA of the year.