The commencement date for the women’s top-flight season of the West African nation has been revealed
The Nigeria Women’s Premier League will make a return on March 18 according to the Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL).
The commencement date was set after a congress meeting with the club representatives and stakeholders in Benin City, with Edo state deputy governor Philip Shaibu in attendance on Tuesday.
In her remarks, NWFL chairperson Aisha Falode lauded the Edo state government for its huge support to women’s football, including the approval of equal pay for the state men and women’s clubs.
“In 2019, Edo state accommodated us, for the NWFL Pro-League and the Amateur League, and we are back for our AGM/Congress in 2020,” Falode said stakeholders and media at the congress.
“This is a reflection of the fact that Edo is fast becoming the home of modern women’s football in Nigeria. Let me also note that Edo Queens is the only club in Nigeria and indeed the world that is enjoying pay parity with their male counterparts Insurance FC.
“This is a milestone and a record-setting achievement that should be emulated by other women club owners in the country.”
While recounting her administration’s exploits in the last 12 months, the ace-broadcaster said: “The 2019 abridged League in the NWPL was successful and eventful. This extended to the NWPL Super Four whose final had two debutants – Confluence Queens of Kogi and Adamawa Queens.
“The high point of the presence of the two cabinet ministers at the NWPL Super Four, 2019, was the promise made by the Sports Minister to help get worthy sponsorship for the NWFL leagues and the commitment made by the Women Affairs Minister to ensure, women football in Nigeria becomes a world-class product.
“We are going to exploit these opportunities in the new season. Let me at this Juncture thank the Honourable Ministers who have demonstrated the zeal and enthusiasm towards the actualisation of the promises made.
“Over the last three seasons, we have had to do a lot of steadying the NWFL ship by removing the many obvious clogs in the wheel of the smooth operation of the league. This was the foundation we had to lay, in order to have achieved our aim of significantly growing the league.
“The timing for this is perfect, as this year 2020 makes it thirty years of women league football in Nigeria. It is therefore only important that we take bold and intentional steps towards achieving the NWFL, we all can be proud of.
“The thirty years anniversary of the women league football in Nigeria and Africa is a major milestone that is worthy of celebration, and we have highlighted various programs and projects towards making this the turning point in women league football in Nigeria and Africa.”
The Congress also confirmed the promotion of Pelican Stars FC and Royal Queens FC to the Nigeria Women Premier League for the 2020 season which is expected to end on June 24.
It further revealed the top two teams from each group qualify automatically for the Super Four tournament, while the last team from the two groups will get relegated to the NWFL-Pro League.
In Group A, Pelican Stars were drawn with Nasarawa Amazons, Sunshine Stars, Bayelsa Queens, Abia Angels, Dream Stars,Edo Queens and last season’s finalists Confluence Queens.
While for Group B, defending champions Rivers Angels were pitched against Ibom Angels, Royal Queens, Osun Babes, FC Robo Queens, Heartland Queens, Delta Queens and Adamawa Queens.
Rivers Angels will again open their defence against FC Robo in Port Harcourt, while runners-up Confluence Queens will be guest to Sunshine Queens on March 18.
Also the same day, Bayelsa Queens welcome Dream Stars Ladies, Nasarawa Amazons visit Pelican Stars in Calabar, Abia Angels play hosts to Edo Queens in Umuahia.
In other opening games, Adamawa Queens travel to Osogbo to face Osun Babes, Royal Queens face Delta Queens in a local derby in Warri and Ibom Angels welcome Heartland Queens.
Rivers Angels are the reigning NWPL winners following a 1-0 Super Four final win over Confluence Queens in Lagos in November 2019.