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Women’s Football Rising: The NWFL’s Vision Under Chairman Nkechi Obi



In the heart of Nigerian sports, a revolution is brewing, one that promises to elevate women’s football to unprecedented heights. Spearheading this transformation is the Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL), under the dynamic leadership of Chairman Ms. Nkechi Obi. With a compelling vision and a 5-pronged execution strategy, NWFL is set to redefine women’s football in Nigeria.

The NWFL, founded in 1990, is Nigeria’s premier women’s football league. It has played a pivotal role in developing the talents of female footballers in Nigeria. Under the stewardship of Ms. Obi, NWFL is poised to create a league that is not just competitive but also resonates with fans and garners the attention it deserves.

The league recognizes the immense potential of women’s football in Nigeria. It’s not just about the game; it’s about empowerment, gender equality, and nurturing a new generation of female athletes. NWFL aims to harness this potential and propel women’s football into the national spotlight.

In a decisive move, the newly appointed Board of the Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL) has embraced FIFA’s women’s development strategy, setting in motion a series of visionary objectives aimed at revolutionising women’s football in Nigeria.

A pivotal objective of this strategy is in enhancing competition, designed to elevate the standard of play, ensuring that fans remain engaged and thrilled by the competitive spirit exhibited on the field.

NWFL is resolutely committed to grassroots growth of the women’s game and expanding the number of clubs, particularly in the States and local government areas. This drive aims to cultivate a broader talent pool that taps into local potential, giving rise to the stars of tomorrow.

Participation is key, and the NWFL seeks to open the doors wider for players and personnel to enter the women’s football ecosystem. By doing so, it aims to create a vibrant and inclusive community.

Recognizing that growth is often a collective endeavour, the NWFL is actively forging alliances and partnerships with like-minded organizations. These collaborations will be instrumental in propelling the growth of women’s football.

The league’s commitment to the sport extends beyond the players and fans. It includes engaging all stakeholders, from states football associations, clubs, players, coaches, fans, agents, corporate Nigeria, commercial partners, to policymakers, etc., to ensure that the future of women’s football is a collective and well-rounded effort.

NWFL has introduced, subject to ratification at the Annual General Assembly, a ground-breaking 3-league structure of 216 Clubscomprising16Premiership, 20 Championship, and 180 States League clubs, (up from the previous 36 clubs – Premiership: 14; Championship: 12; Nationwide (now States Leagues): 10 clubs).This tiered system is a strategic move that offers players the opportunity to nurture and refine their skills at various levels, thus fostering a robust pipeline of talent for the future.

This immediate expansion will ensure that over the season, about 820 matches will be played on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, every week; keeping over 7,000 players, coaches, and officials fully engaged.

The adoption of FIFA’s women’s development strategy by the NWFL signifies a bold step towards the advancement of women’s football in Nigeria. With a focus on competitiveness, grassroots growth, inclusivity, a funding model, and strategic partnerships, NWFL is poised to make a lasting impact on the sport’s landscape.

NWFL understands that success is a team effort. Collaborations and partnerships with like-minded organizations and stakeholders are essential to realising their vision. Leveraging the league’s new stakeholder engagement drive–Women Football Rising©, several initiatives have been designed, including the“He4She© Campaign”, a transformative movement that aims to unite Influential men in Nigeria to support and empower women’s football and the “Sisterhood© Campaign”, aimed at harnessing the collective power of women across professions, businesses, religious, social, and cultural groups to empower women’s football.

The “Football and the Girl Child© Campaign”, is also an initiative that seeks to engage communities in the six geo-political zones of Nigeria and the FCT, to promote the safety, security, inclusivity and personal development of the girl child through grassroots football, while “Class to Pitch©”, a collaboration with Sports Business Institute, aims to train more professionals in the women football ecosystem (coaches, referees, etc).

Stakeholder engagements across the states and clubs have already begun, with the board engaging Nasarawa, Adamawa, Kogi states and FCT Clubs in Abuja. The familiarization tour has visited Delta, Imo, Ekiti and Ondo States and the engagements will continue up to and after the Annual General Assembly.

NWFL’s goal is to deliver a women’s football league that is fiercely competitive, with fans on the edge of their seats, brimming with distinct appeal, and governed to the highest standards. Ms. Nkechi Obi’s leadership and the NWFL team’s dedication, are steering the league towards this vision and the journey under this leadership promises a brighter future for women’s football in Nigeria. With a strategic roadmap, grassroots focus, collaborations, and unveiling of the Women Football Rising©, platform, the NWFL is set to rise and shine on the global football stage. The women of Nigeria are ready to take their place in the spotlight, and NWFL is leading the way.

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Klopp hails Salah as Egyptian reaches 200 goals in English football




Liverpool talisman Mohamed Salah received high praise from manager Juergen Klopp after reaching yet another milestone in Sunday’s 3-0 victory over Brentford that propelled them to second spot in the Premier League.

The 31-year-old Egyptian scored in each half to reach 200 goals in English soccer — 198 for Liverpool and two for Chelsea — and became the first player ever to score in each of Liverpool’s first six home games of the season.

“Crazy,” Klopp said marvelling about Salah, who Liverpool reportedly received a £150m (R3.4bn) bid for from Al-Ittihad in the last transfer window.

“Goal number 200 in England, right? Exceptional, played a super game today,” Klopp added. “Two players always around him, he kept the ball.

“We had so many good moments first half. [The] composure for the first goal is insane. No doubt in that area, you see it on the scoresheet. Special player.”

Liverpool have yet to lose at their Anfield fortress this season in all competitions, winning their sixth successive league game there on Sunday.

But while Klopp was thrilled with the performance he had strong words for the schedulers who have pencilled in their next game against leaders Manchester City as a 12.30pm kickoff at the Etihad on November 25, right after the international break.

“How can you put the Man City game on at 12.30pm?” he asked reporters after the game. “These people don’t know football.

“There could be a moment when these two teams have 30 international players, we pick up the South Americans on one plane to arrive here.”

Klopp was happy with his team’s bounce-back after their 3-2 loss at Toulouse in the Europa League group stage on Thursday.

“I’m very pleased to use that opportunity … to lose against Toulouse and then react in the way we did today.”

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From 6th to 18th: Wayne Rooney’s coaching ‘curse continues’ at Birmingham FC




Garry Cook, Birmingham City’s chief executive, opted against restraint when welcoming Wayne Rooney to St Andrew’s last month.

“This is a defining moment for the football club,” he said in a punchy opening appraisal of the Championship club’s new manager.

Perhaps time will make a prophet of Cook, but the grand vision he was selling to supporters in the wake of John Eustace’s sacking is yet to crystalise. Five games under Rooney have so far yielded four dispiriting losses and one underwhelming point. All glitter, no gold.

Birmingham were fifth on the night of Eustace’s final game, a 3-1 home win against local rivals West Bromwich Albion, and sixth on the day Rooney was named his successor. A month on and they are 18th in the second tier, seven points adrift of the play-offs and sinking like a stone.

The three-and-a-half-year contract given to Rooney indicates judgments will not be made with haste, but Saturday’s 3-1 away defeat against Sunderland again revealed an uncertain team struggling to grasp the methods of a new manager.

The Gaffer’s take on this afternoon’s game in Sunderland. 🗣️

— Birmingham City FC (@BCFC) November 11, 2023

Rooney clung to the positives at the Stadium of Light, the scene of his first start for England against Turkey 20 years ago. He pointed to Birmingham’s best moments late in the first half and bemoaned their missed chances.

Yes, Birmingham might have scored three or four with greater conviction in front of goal, but it is little exaggeration to suggest Sunderland could have had twice as many. The abundant attacking threats of Tony Mowbray’s sixth-placed side exposed all the shortcomings of this evolving Birmingham one.

A work in progress would be the polite assessment.

Rooney has been tasked with transforming what has become a middling Championship club.

Co-owner and chairman Tom Wagner had no wish to see Eustace’s pragmatic reign unduly extended and instead went for the stardust of a man who is Manchester United’s record goalscorer and until this year held the same status for England, along with a stellar support staff that includes England cap centurion and three-time Premier League winner Ashley Cole and John O’Shea, who won even more caps with the Republic of Ireland and even more Premier Leagues (five).

They, Wagner felt, would change the dynamic at St Andrew’s, altering the club’s philosophy and style.

No easy task when arriving a quarter of the way into a season, especially when the new regime’s opening five games all came against teams among the Championship’s top 10.

Yet even with those allowances, it has been a start to test the bravado of Cook.

Only a draw at home against Ipswich Town, a result made less impressive by the concession of two late goals as a 2-0 lead went up in smoke, has snapped a pattern that has brought defeats to Middlesbrough, Hull City, Southampton and now Sunderland. In his five matches, Rooney’s Birmingham have conceded 11 goals and scored four.

“We can’t keep saying we’ve seen improvements, we have to start picking up results,” accepted Rooney, baseball cap pulled down low above his eyes. “I really believe we will. What I’m seeing from the players is really positive.”

Birmingham are a long way from the January transfer window, when the chance will come to recruit players to suit Rooney’s needs, and the short-term will need to bring better results. Their next two home games are against Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham United, two of the current bottom three. Defeat in either of those fixtures will be much harder to explain away.

Rooney feels the timing of this international break has at least come as a blessing — a chance to work on the fitness of his players, who struggle to do all he asks of them across the full 90 minutes.

“The way they played before was completely different, sitting back a lot,” says the man who spent the previous 15 months managing DC United in MLS. “I’m asking players to be front-footed and to go and press high. It’s really intense. A different fitness level to what they’ve been used to. That’ll take a bit of time.”

Sunderland yesterday looked like a side that perhaps Wagner would like Birmingham to become.

The wide threats of Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts stretched play throughout, while Jobe Bellingham and Dan Neil were able to break the lines from midfield. Sunderland were often scruffy in a makeshift defence but Birmingham could have few complaints about their latest defeat.

Teenager Bellingham, sold by Birmingham’s new regime in the summer, opened the scoring from a corner that Rooney felt should have been a goal kick, then hit the same post his Ukrainian team-mate Nazariy Rusyn had earlier rattled. Birmingham responded well enough to equalise through Koji Miyoshi before half-time but a Dion Sanderson own goal and a third from Adil Aouchiche were enough to eventually see Sunderland win at a canter.

Rooney watched most of it from a default position in the technical area; feet planted and wide apart, arms folded.

“I enjoy it every day,” he insisted afterwards. “I enjoy working with the players. Of course, you get disappointment when you’re losing games of football but if you can’t enjoy coming in and doing what I’ve been tasked with doing for this club, then you’re never going to enjoy football.”

Birmingham’s new season was supposed to be different, but even with a name like Rooney in charge, it has begun to feel a lot like those that came before it.

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Harry Maguire’s triumph: From stripped captain to resilient starter at Man Utd




Harry Maguire feels vindicated in his decision to stay and fight for his spot at Manchester United, having forced his way back into Erik ten Hag’s team.

The 30-year-old’s future seemed set to lie away from Old Trafford after the blow of losing his starting place was compounded by being stripped of the captaincy over the summer, but a potential move to West Ham – or elsewhere – did not materialise.

And Maguire’s self-belief never wavered, with the under-fire defender repeatedly underlining his confidence about winning back his place at United.

That sounded far-fetched to many, but is precisely what he has managed, with the England international starting their last eight matches in all competitions.

Asked it feels like personal vindication for staying at United, Maguire said: “Of course.

“I played a few games last year, 16 or 17 starts, and I felt like I performed really well in the games I played in. I just didn’t play as many as I would have liked.

“On the other hand, Rapha (Varane) and Licha (Lisandro Martinez) were playing brilliantly and kept numerous clean sheets. I had to bide my time and be patient.

“I had two or three opportunities last season to get a run of games but I broke down with illness, I broke down with injuries twice, so I never got the rhythm and never got the run of games that I could prove myself to the manager.

“I have got that now, I am really enjoying my football and I really enjoy playing for this club.

“I was willing to stay and fight for my place and we have four, five top international centre-backs at this club and the competition for places is really high.”

Maguire has capitalised on injuries over the past six weeks and showed an impressive mentality, which is perhaps unsurprising for a player used to relentless mockery in recent years.

England boss Gareth Southgate said the treatment he faced was “ridiculous”, “a joke” and “beyond anything I’ve ever seen” after September’s win in Scotland came to a backdrop of Hampden Park abuse.

Maguire brushed it off as “banter” as he continued to block out criticism and abuse, saying his career to date has helped him retain a self-belief many would have seen dented.

“Working hard in training is the main thing and making sure you’re ready,” the United defender said. “But I started 16 or 17 games last year and felt like my form was there.

“There was a lot of talk about me because I wasn’t playing games, but that is the way it is.

“I was playing well for my country, went to the World Cup and played well and always thought my form was there.

“But I am up against some top, top-level centre-backs and last year they were playing amazing, so I didn’t get as many opportunities as I would have liked.

“This club demands competition for places and that is what we have in my position.”

Maguire’s focus now turns to England matters before United reunite and refocus on improvements after edging past Luton 1-0 on Saturday.

It was a fourth win in five Premier League matches but improvements in front of goal are needed.

Misfiring Marcus Rashford has scored just once this term, with Rasmus Hojlund, Alejandro Garnacho, Antony and Anthony Martial yet to open their Premier League accounts.

“That’s what everyone will be talking about,” Maguire said. “I see (the forwards) day in, day out in training and I play with internationals next week at England and the lads in training at United.

“The top players all have the ability to score goals. At the moment we are not scoring enough goals and we know that.

“But we aren’t keeping enough clean sheets as well – that’s how I look at it.

“I think in the past you’ve seen our attackers are top-quality players and can do it.

“Maybe a little bit of luck will turn and they’ll get the first one and the goals will follow. I am sure they will because they are all very good players.”

Hojlund’s struggles domestically are particularly surprising given nobody has scored more Champions League group-stage goals than the summer signing.

“Ras is a top player,” Maguire added. “I think you’ve seen his work ethic and what he brings to the team in recent weeks. He does a lot more than scoring goals.

“He scores goals in training, you’ve seen him score goals in the Champions League and I am sure it is a matter of time before he bangs a few in the Prem as well.”

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