It was a moment of glitz and blitz during the 2022 Sheroes Awards ceremony when outstanding Nigerians were honoured in spectacular ways in line with their numerous attainments and contributions to women sports developments.
At the event which held inside the prestigious Merit House Maitama Abuja, many sports personalities from all walks of life gathered in a relax atmosphere of celebration.
In a keynote address, the immediate past 1st Vice President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Barr. Seyi Akinwunmi, who went down memory lane, expressed optimism that women football in Nigeria and part of the world “is the next big thing”.
Barr. Akunwunmi who was the event’s special guest of honour said, “
Women’s football is next big thing, we have just had our recent trophy at the World level in women football. I’m particularly proud for many reasons. For us to understand where we are going, we need to understand where we coming from.
“The Women’s Super League in UK started in 2010. Today we have players there who earn huge moneys. We had 11m people watching the World Cup finals. Five years ago, the highest attendance in women’s football was 3000.
“We recently had over 60000 who watched Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid. Agencies have started taking special interest in the game. We can win the World Cup if we take advantage of what we have.
“Many companies want to invest in women’s football. They are coming to Nigeria. These organisations are ready to pump money in the women’s game.”
Also speaking, one of the awardees and NFF executive board member, Rt. Hon. Margaret Icheen, while revealing how she rose from grass to grace in her chosen life career, admonished young women footballers to be focused and determined.
Rt. Hon Icheen won Sheroes Lifetime Achievement Award.
Host and President of Ratels Sports Development Foundation (RSDF), Barr. Paul Edeh, said passion has remained his driving force in his determination to contribute to women football development in Nigeria and beyond.
Barr. Edeh whose Foundation sponsors the ongoing Sheroes Cup, a pre-season tournament annually, assured that the competition and awards event will continue to get better.
He made it clear that those who were honoured at the event got it based on merit, and that the Foundation didn’t collect any gratification in exchange for the award.
“I have always desired to contribute my quota in making the society, especially the women better. It has not been easy, but my team and I have always tasked ourselves and we are motivated to do what we do.
“Everyone no matter your status is expected to contribute his or her quota to make our society a better and safe place to live,” he said.
A total of 12 individuals and organisations were honoured at the event.
They include Nigerian sensational sprinter and World record holder Tobi Amusan as Sheroe of the year award, reigning African woman footballer of the year and Nigeria’s Super Falcons forward Asisat Oshoala as Sheroe African Footballer of the year.
The head coach of Nigeria’s Flamingos, Bankole Olowookere, whose team won bronze bagged Sheroe Sports Icon of the year, just as the Wife of Edo State Governor Mrs Betsy Obaseki emerged the Sheroe Trailblazer of the year.
Other awardees are Super Falcons player Monday Gift (Sheroe Women Football Rising Star of the year), Mrs Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe (Sheroe Capital Achievement award), and Coach Emmanuel Osahon (Sheroe Women Football Talent Developer of the year.
Also, Ruqayyah Adeboye (Sheroe Humanitarian of the year), Nelly Orisakwe (Sheroe Women Football Grassroots Coach of the year) and Ayisat Yusuf-Aromire (Sheroe Girl-Child Advocate of the year) were presented with the awards.
There was also posthumous award for late Alhaji Tewogboye Oyewole as Sheroe Pioneer of the Women Football in Nigeria.
Lagos State Football Association then won Sheroe Most Outstanding Women Football Development FA of the year.