Akinwunmi, who spoke to the Nigerian News Agency on the sidelines of the 2022 Sheroe Awards in Abuja, said women’s football was on the rise, especially in Africa and Nigeria in particular.
“You see, for us to understand where we’re going, we need to understand where we’ve come from.
“In fact, I had no doubts before the Flamingos left for the U-17 Women’s World Cup that they were not going to come back empty-handed after a lot of hard work and preparation.
“In fact, they went and made us proud and people have now seen and recognized that the next big thing in the round leather game in the country is women’s soccer.
“This is the message that we must try to push so that sponsors can come in and see the opportunities for growth.
“Thank God this is because of a very good performance in India and it was just that we couldn’t make it to the final.
“So, we’re proud that they got it right,” he said.
The former First Vice President of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) praised Ratels Sports Development Foundation (RSDF), the organizers of the Sheroes Cup and Award for their efforts in the growth and development of women’s football in the country.
“The Sheroes Cup is without doubt the biggest women’s football tournament in West Africa.
“I had the privilege of watching some of the tournament matches, both offline and online, and I am very impressed with what they are doing to put African women’s football on the map.
“Furthermore, honoring these deserving women through the Sheroes Award is commendable and a wake-up call to other private, multinational organizations and foundations to emulate what the RSDF is doing.
“Congratulations to the RSDF for the excellent work, resources and energy they have put into these projects and I urge them not to give up their efforts,” he said.
Margaret Icheen, an NFF Executive Board Member who was among the honorees, said receiving the award and recognition was an encouragement to continue to do more for women’s football.
“This is wonderful and quite encouraging as those who have been given awards have made history and when those people are recognized it actually serves as an example for the young people who are coming on board.
“I think events like this will really encourage them and encourage them to do more,” said the former vice president of the Nigerian Women’s Football League (NWFL).
RSDF chairman Paul Edeh said the award, which was in its third year, was the best ever, but added there was still room for improvement.
“For me, I have always believed that there is no point in venturing into any project that does not have a legacy or an enduring existence.
“This is why the Sheroes Award has entered its third edition this year.
“Certainly I won’t beat my chest to say that this is the best, but I can’t say that this is definitely the best when you compare it to the previous two editions.
“I assure you that we will continue to improve and as many women and individuals as organizations that continue to support the cause of women, we will catch and reward them.
“One thing that I think we were not able to achieve in this edition is in the area of the official benefits that are attached to the prizes that we had planned.
“But we trust to God that as we climb the ladder of time, we will attract strong organizations that will be able to support this award.
“When this is achieved, we will be able to award official benefits to reward individuals and organizations alike in subsequent editions,” he said.
Edeh said his inspiration came first and foremost from God, adding that he was also driven by a passion to make an impact and a legacy in the lives of young women and children alike.
“I am completely dedicated to this project and mission and as God continues to provide the necessary resources, we will continue to improve on what we are doing.
“Slowly but surely, we will get to that point where everyone will come together and say this is our project,” he said.
reports that the list of awardees includes Tobi Amusan (Sheroe Woman of the Year 2022), Asisat Oshoala (Sheroe African Footballer), Monday Gift (Sheroe Women Football Rising Star), Orisakwe Nelly (Grassroot Coach of the Year), and Bankole Olowookere ( Sports Award Icon).
Others are; Betsy Obaseki, Edo State Governor’s Wife (Sheroe Trailblazer), Akinwunmi (Most Outstanding Women’s Soccer Development FA), Icheen (Lifetime Achievement Award), Tewogbade Oyewole (Women’s Soccer Pioneer), and Nneka Onyali-Ikpe ( Sheroe’s Visionary Leader Award) ).
The rest includes; Emmanuel Osahon (Sheroe Women’s Soccer Talent Developer), Ayisat Aromire (Sheroe Girl Advocate), and Ruqayyah Adeboye (Sheroe Humanitarian Award).
===========Edited. eniola williams
Source Credit: NAN