Falcons and our sports reward system

It is often said that success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan. The case of the Super Falcons, Nigeria’s women national football team, after the just concluded African Women Cup of Nations in Cameroun is different. They had brought joy to our nation by emerging champions for the tenth time but they returned as orphans without the usual pomp had the Super Eagles achieved the same feat. Sadly, the girls have been treated so unfairly causing them to refuse to vacate the Abuja hotel they were camped in after their return until their bonuses were paid in full.

It is, however, good that President Buhari has ordered the immediate release of N471m to settle allowances of the players. Aside tennis in which women fought hard and long for equal prize money in grand slams and maybe athletics, female sports worldwide is a shadow of male sports when it comes to remunerations. It took public outcry and litigations for the United States Women National Team to close the gap between themselves and their less successful male counterparts.

Therefore, asking for equal pay and treatment now may not be possible in the foreseeable future. However, the case of the Falcons is not that of discriminatory disbursement, it is that of complete neglect and disregard for contractual agreements. From the careless comments by the sports minister that the Falcons were not expected to win, to the recession reason given by the Minister of Information, this ugly incident could have been avoided.
What happens to appearance fees, camp and travel allowances of these players? Thornier is that one of the coaches and one of the girls lost their fathers in the course of the trophy winning campaign. So one can only imagine how the grieving girls played under the yoke of sorrow to grind out the hard fought victory. How thinkable can the sports ministry have bearish expectations of the girls when the annual budget for the entire nation is based on bullish crude prices? This argument is not just about performance of the girls, it is about funds allocated for the girls.

For crying out loud, how can the ladies believe there is a recession when they were returned in a chartered flight at government’s expense from Yaoundé? Does the overall extravagant lifestyle of our public office holders indicate any form of downturn in the land? The overbloated bureaucracy that is being maintained does not indicate we are in a recession.
Therefore, this premise is weak.  I expected the Ministry of Finance or her Budget and National Planning counterpart to be the one doing the talking. It has been proven everywhere in the world and especially Nigeria

Ayodele Okunfolami,
[email protected]

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