By Oluwaseun Fadugba
Ten female football teams in Ikorodu, Lagos State, are competing for N100,000 cash prize at the maiden edition of the Afusat Olabimpe Abiodun Female Gold Cup.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the competition began on Sunday at the Police Barracks Sports Field, Ikorodu.
It will end on Feb. 13.
At the opening ceremony, Director-General, Lagos State Sports Commission, Oluwatoyin Bolowoton, said that the tournament was part of activities to promote the development of the girl-child.
He hoped that the competition would promote the growth of female football.
“The tournament is meant for our girls.
“It is a good one happening here in Ikorodu; this is what we have been longing for, we will encourage more people to come to the assistance of the girl-child,” he said.
Bolowoton disclosed that the state had concluded plans for grassroots programmes for female football players.
“The state also has its own programmes for grassroots development, we need to accommodate more female football competitions at this level.
“The state is going to come up with more elaborate competitions that will cut across the 57 local council areas.
“At the grassroots, we can identify one to three players there and enroll them in a club.
“It is about their exposure. It is just a systematic way of developing our female football,’’ he said.
The Chairman of Ikorodu Divisional Football Association, Lukmon Shonibare, said that the competition was be a major way of distracting the attention of the girl-child from vices.
He added that the competition would encourage more girls so develop interest in the sport.
“We discovered that vices such as cultism, drug addiction, prostitution and many more are now rampant among the youth.
“We then decided to use this opportunity to engage them so that it will encourage girls to stay off crime,” he said.
He noted that some girls were talented but did not have a platform to showcase their talents.
“This will also bring more girls to play football,’’ he said.
Adeoye Abiodun, Vice Chairman of Ikorodu Division of the Lagos State Football Association, expressed the optimism that the competition would expose talented female players.
“This is the first Afusat Abiodun competition in memory of our late mother, who died 39 years ago. We will be doing this yearly.
“The major objective is to encourage female football at the grassroots,” he said.
According to him, the competition will provide a platform for girls to showcase their talents in football and be groomed.
“We want to see more Azeezat Osuales in future,” he said.
One of the players, Faith Unigwe, told NAN that the competition would encourage the players to show more interest in football.
She called for more competitions to promote female football.
“This is my first time of participating in such a tournament. I am really excited and I pray that this continues.
“If you are a footballer and you are just training and not playing matches, you won’t be able to determine your strength.
“This competition will really help us. I am really glad for this opportunity,” she said.
NAN reports that the most valuable player in the tournament would also be awarded a cash prize and scholarship (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)