A glamorous draw ceremony on Wednesday in Lagos heralded the much–anticipated Dr Aisha Buhari Invitational Women’s Football Tournament (Aisha Buhari Cup), which the City of Lagos will host 13th – 21st September.
Dignitaries, including captains of industry, top officials of Lagos State Sports Commission, top acts of the local organizing committee, Super Falcons’ player and Super Falcons’ assistant coach, women’s football financiers and enthusiasts, and representatives of the media witnessed the epoch event.
The draw ceremony was preceded by a press conference, where Chairman of the LOC, Barr. Seyi Akinwunmi outlined the objectives of the tournament, which include galvanizing the critical sectors of the country to support the women’s game better given the abundance of talent in the country.
Also, to promote Her Excellency, the First Lady, Dr Aisha Buhari’s Future Assured Programme; highlight the several opportunities and possibilities embedded in women’s football; showcase Lagos State, the Centre of Excellence and; further project to the international sphere of Nigeria’s immense talent in women’s football, the good attitude of Nigerians and the organizational skill of Nigerians.
Director of Organization, Aisha Falode minced no words in saying that the coming tournament is more than just football played on the field. She contended that what Her Excellency is doing with the Future Assured Programme dovetails excellently with the tenets and spirit of the FIFA Women’s Development Programme, which is all about the girl-child and her health as well as economic empowerment and educational enhancement. She revealed that the organizers want to use the tournament to build positive and enduring narratives about women’s football, Lagos State and Nigeria generally.
Director-General of the Lagos State Sports Commission, Toyin Gafaar Bolowotan assured that the Lagos State Government, through the Lagos State Sports Commission, will offer all the necessary support to enable a hitch-free tournament, as completion work is at high speed at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan and renovation work is apace at the Agege Stadium – the two venues for the tournament. He added that the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration is gingered up to support sports development projects, and has recently embarked on the construction of 11 more stadia across the State.
A member of the LOC representing the Office of the First Lady, Dr Wole Aboderin, read Her Excellency’s speech, in which she appreciated the President of NFF and the LOC, saying the tournament provides another window to meaningfully impact the life of the girl-child. She added that she has given her full support to the project, and charged all the participants to observe Fair Play as they will be Playing for Good. There were also messages of goodwill from Super Falcons’ players Asisat Oshoala, Onome Ebi, Desire Oparanozie, Rasheedat Ajibade and Gift Monday.
Falode, who is also Chairman of the Nigeria Women Football League, conducted the draw, with famous women’s football financier Hon. Ayo Omidiran, Super Falcons’ assistant coach Ann Chiejine, ace journalist Cecilia Omorogbe and Super Falcons’ forward Gift Monday picking from the pots to draw the teams in groups. Nigeria and Morocco will square up in the opening match of the tournament at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan on Monday, 13th September.