Statement by NWFL Chairman Ms Nkechi Obi at the Media Briefing in Abuja

Wednesday 6 September 2023
Abuja, Nigeria

On behalf of the Board of the Nigeria Women’s Football League (NWFL), I welcome everyone here present, particularly friends of the NWFL who have graced us with their presence in support of the
league and its activities. I specially recognise the gentlemen and ladies of the press herewith us, in acknowledgement of the role of the media, both traditional and digital, as critical to the promotion
and development of sports in Nigeria.

Your contributions over the years to sports development cannot be overemphasized. The Board of the NWFL has deemed it fit to organise this Media Briefing to share updates on her activities since her inauguration 6 weeks ago and to also share the Strategic Direction and Action Plan for the future, starting from the 2023/24 season which commences exactly one month to the date with the Annual General Assembly (AGA).

We are all witnesses to the global rise in women’s football with an increasing record of corporate sponsorship, audience and matchday attendance. It is now one of the fastest-growing sports in the
world and reference is made regularly to its global growth potentials.
The Women’s World Cup 2023 was a global phenomenon, capturing the hearts of over 2 billion viewers worldwide. The stadiums in Australia witnessed a spectacle of passion and skill, with more than 30,000 fans cheering for their favourite national teams in every match.

This is a testament to the undeniable rise of women’s football and a strong foothold to build upon. From a professional football perspective, women’s club football has also done remarkably well with Barcelona FC setting the women’s football attendance record in April 2022 with over 91,000 fans at Camp Nou. International transfer fees in professional women’s football hit a new record of US$3.3m in 2022, more than the combined transfer figures of 2021 and 2022.

On both fronts, Nigeria’s national team Super Falcons and the Nigeria Women’s Football League have been privileged to be a part of this historic moment. It is quite important to note that 15
(fifteen) members of the 23-member Super Falcons squad are products of the NWFL. Asisat Oshoala, who started her professional career with FC Robo before moving on to Rivers Angels has gone on to win trophies with Arsenal FC (England), Dalian Quanjian (China) and FC Barcelona (Spain).

Ms Nkechi Obi addressing media at the NWFL Press Conference in Abuja

Our players continue to ignite a spark of inspiration that has reverberated through every corner of our nation. From the grassroots to the pinnacle of the sport, their triumphs in both the national team and professional clubs have energized a community of over 5,000 players, coaches, and officials in the women’s football league in Nigeria.

There are increasing opportunities for our players to play professionally in major leagues across the world, but we need to understand that these major leagues cannot fully absorb our talents and there is therefore a need to create a viable career pathway for talents coming out of Nigeria. We also recognise that our success in empowering women through sports and driving economic growth
depends on our ability to create a professional women’s football ecosystem in Nigeria.

Globally, clubs are at the heart of football development and a club development strategy should therefore be at the very foundation for the development of women’s football in Nigeria, as the most
sustainable model to drive professionalism in the game and achieve women empowerment and economic growth through sports.
To this end, the NWFL Board has developed “Women’s Football Rising©” as the platform to drive our growth strategy for 2023 and beyond.

Women’s Football Rising © is the strategic platform
developed by the NWFL to exponentially grow women’s football in Nigeria through strong and sustainable football clubs. The platform will drive the empowerment of women football players in
Nigeria through the gradual but sustained commercialization of club football and delivery of strategic objectives based on a sustainable and scalable execution plan.

The strategic objectives of the Women’s Football Rising © platform, presented at the Women’s World Cup Watch Party on 20th August during the first official event of the current leadership of
the NWFL in partnership with LaLiga Global Network for Nigeria and Ghana include:

a. Grow participation
b. Enhance the commercial value of clubs
c. Build the foundation for sustainable growth
To achieve these objectives, a five-pronged execution strategy has been developed. The strategy is based on extensive stakeholder engagements across all spheres of endeavour, backed by a
vigorous media and communication campaign to drive home our message of engagement and inclusivity. This Strategy will guide the activities of the NWFL going forward and will be implemented
at both League levels as well as among the participating clubs in the League.
Key elements of the strategy will see us:
a. DEVELOP AND GROW by working with the clubs and women’s football associations at the State level to grow female participation in grassroot football by ensuring that girls and women have clear pathways to play football professionally.
b. SHOWCASE THE NWFL by improving the appeal toplayers, fans and commercial partners and optimising competitions to ensure that the best players and teams are showcased.
c. COMMUNICATE AND COMMERCIALISE THE NWFL by broadening the exposure of the league and consequently growing its commercial value.
d. GOVERN AND LEAD by broadening female representation in football decision-making at the highest levels and by refining the regulatory frameworks that will foster the professionalisation of NWFL.
e. EDUCATE AND EMPOWER by harnessing the power of the game and its competitions and highlighting NWFL’s positive social impact on women and girls all around the country.

Our first step in implementing this strategy is our Annual General Assembly scheduled for 5th October 2023 ahead of the kick-off of the 2023/24 NWFL season in November. The AGA will be the
first gathering of Board Members, all clubs and critical stakeholders and the discussions at the event will lay the foundation for the successful running of the league season based on the activity
schedule designed.

Service providers and consultants across several spheres of endeavour especially Communications and Marketing as well as Experiential Services will be engaged to ensure that the
values and ethos of the NWFL are well captured in our communications and engagements with our immediate and remote stakeholders and partners. We have also commenced our marketing
campaign with the goal of getting the right corporate and development partners on board to help us achieve our growth objectives.

In terms of Capacity Development, our “Class to Pitch©” initiative will see us undertake programmes to promote the development of women coaches and referees while also providing personal development training for our players, training for media clubs media officers, and capacity development in governance, administration and management for our clubs executives. The NWFL Secretariat will also receive assistance in form of personnel and other resources to strengthen her delivery of service to the league.

Our Commitment to our immediate community – girls wishing to play football and find a pathway in sports – will be reinforced through our “Football and the Girl Child©” Advocacy programme which 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 grassroot football.

Our funding strategy for our events and activities will also see us deploy crowd funding models through our “Sisterhood©” and “He-For-She©” Campaigns designed to enable us tap into the vast
network of retail funds that can help fund the successful implementation our programmes.
Once again, we appreciate the immense contribution of the media institutions and journalists towards the cause of women’s football as driven by the NWFL and hope we can continue to count
on your unwavering support for the women’s game. We look forward to a cordial, professional and mutually beneficial partnership in the course of the 2023/2024 season and beyond.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.
With the utmost regard of the NWFL
Nkechi Obi
Chairman, Nigeria Women Football League
6th September, 2023