President of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) Mr. Amaju Pinnick says the presence of President of world football governing body, FIFA, Mr Gianni Infantino and CAF President, Dr Patrice Motsepe at the opening ceremony of the maiden Aisha Buhari Invitational Tournament in Lagos, will serve as a huge boost to help offset the enormous challenges confronting the girl-child all over the African continent.
“I feel very happy that Mr Infantino and Dr Motsepe were able to grace the opening ceremony of this special tournament. It is a bonus and a boost for the girl-child advocacy. It shows there is genuine desire and keen interest of football leaders to not only improve the standard and visibility of the women’s game, but to also scale up the lot of the girl-player economically and ensure she can earn as well as the boy-player.
“Already, we can see that desire and interest manifest with the increase in the participating teams at the FIFA Women’s World Cup to 32 – the same number as the men’s finals – as from the next competition in 2023. On the African front, the Confederation of African Football has put in place a CAF Women Champions League which finals will hold in November. All these are key building blocks to improving the lot of the girl-player,” he noted.
Infantino and billionaire businessman Motsepe who took over leadership of the African football –ruling body six months ago, landed in Lagos on Wednesday, hours before the commencement of the tournament staged in honour of the First Lady of Nigeria, with the theme, ‘Playing for Good’. It also dovetails with the key objectives of the First Lady’s Future Assured Programme (under the Aisha Buhari Foundation), which is concerned with the health, education and economic empowerment of women and the girl-child.
The two prominent figures in the global game shared the presidential box of the remodelled Mobolaji Johnson Arena on Lagos Island, with top –ranking political figures including Lagos Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, his wife Ibijoke, Youth and Sports Development Minister, Sunday Dare and the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen.
There were also FA Presidents from other African nations, including Ghana FA President Kurt Okraku (who is also president of the WAFU B) and the President of Mali FA, Mamoutou Toure.
Infantino and Motsepe were then treated to a blue-riband dinner at the Sky Lounge of the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, where they mingled with the best of Nigeria’s elites that included billionaire businessman, Aliko Dangote, Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele and Chief Executive Officers of NFF’s partner and sponsor-companies.
On Thursday morning, both men flew into the nation’s capital, Abuja where they met with President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa.
Nigeria’s Super Falcons kicked off the competition on a bright note, following a convincing 2-0 victory over Mali on Wednesday courtesy of Monday Gift’s brace.