Barr (Mrs) Victoria Nlemigbo is currently a seasoned sports administrator who is also a practising lawyer in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and beyond. In this interview with Blueprint weekend Sports crew, she spoke about football administration vis-a-vis the forthcoming Football Association (FA) elections scheduled to take place in part of Nigeria in June, 2019, among other issues.
My experience in football administration
Well, when you are passionate about anything, you apply yourself into it and at the end of the day, you will definitely be happy when you know you have committed yourself 100%. So to that extent, the experience has been interesting. I can say the experience has been interesting, because we as a board under FCT FA have remained focused despite all the challenges. The past eight years have been challenging. I got involved in the football administration, working with different levels of people outside my calling and profession, the mixture has been challenging and interesting.
Sponsorship challenges, combing law practice and football administrative bottlenecks
Let me take the issue of sponsorship, it is a very crunchy issue, because if you look at it, in Nigeria generally, we have been having issues with sponsorship. We have not been able to pin down any organisation or agency that is interested in supporting football activities.
At first, you see people paying lip service, they announce these sponsors, before you know, it will be like the more you know, the less you see. That has been a general problem and particularly in FCT. For the past three to four years, we have been blessed with a Director of Sports in the person of Chief Mrs
Delichuku Oyedinma, that was an athlete and she is very interested in sport and she has been supporting us.
She has done what her predecessors didn’t do in terms of supporting and ensuring that our activities see the light. For instance, we started FCT women league and we have done two years already. It was established to run every year and this year, it is coming up around July, the date is not definite yet. The FCT Sports director has been able to push some of our activities, otherwise most of the things we do are self-sponsored, unfortunately you drain your resources but sometimes the result you achieve give you that consolation and you are happy when you see the girls, they come out, you take them off the street.
During the competition, you see that they are committed. They have limited access that can expose them to danger that one also gives you satisfaction. If we are waiting for sponsors, we will not be having activities in FCT but it has been addressed because recently a committee on marketing and sponsorship has been set up, so we hope that when the new people that will take over the FCT football association come in, they may push further to get sponsors for our activities.
On the other hand, I’m a Lawyer by profession and I’m into legal practice. I also have passion for football. I have been able to manage both of them. I derive satisfaction doing them.
My stand out achievements
I would say that there are lot of innovations. if you are talking about the achievement since I came on board, it is very obvious, because to be honest, the challenges are very high but before I came, we had one female team in the FCT that was playing in the national league and then, the team was disbanded. We try to encourage people to come on board to promote women football, support women football, in the process, we were able to establish women league for the first time in FCT.
The first season we had eight team participating on the home and away basis. It has never happen in this country, in any state, even now there is no state run and fund league. FCT established that under my tenure. We have in the past, one team representing the FCT in the federation cup. Now, we have been able to establish challenge cup as a competition for girls.
Last year, we played in the final, two teams represented FCT in the challenge cup.
This season we had four teams that participated, so you can see that there is increase and there is interest. I can assure you that next season we will have more numbers than this season and it’s because one have been able to interact and encourage people to promote women football through all forms of participation.
I can assure you that by the time we go for play-off, the FCT team that will be going for the play off will not just be participant but will be competitors for the ultimate goal which is winning the cup.
I have already mentioned inter-primary school competition that we established though we have not fine-tuned it but it ran for a period of time and stopped because of lack of support and sponsor and we are working on it to bring it back and this time to have people showing interest and supporting it.
Possibility of a woman leading NFF or any state FA body
The answer is yes. Of course, women are endowed and gifted in so many ways. It’s just unfortunate that we hardly get the support to be challenged at all levels, but I can assure you that if a woman is given the opportunity, she will even do a lot better than what we have today because football house primarily are concerned with children who are playing football to benefit welfare, independence and their freedom through the process of playing football. So, as a mother you will see that all of that will be put into consideration. While making policies and administrative decisions, she will tailor those decisions which will benefit major stakeholders in football which are the players.
If a woman is in office, the greed and corruption that has been the bane of our football will be grossly reduced, if not eliminated, because she will focus on how to improve the game in order to achieve the ultimate goal. If eventually a woman is given the opportunity to run either the FA chairman or the NFF President position, she will excel.
I’m looking at a woman who is passionate about sport if possible an ex-professional footballer who have gone ahead to develop herself academically and has acquired the required skill to be able to establish and understand the policies to work in line with the international bodies and every other things. A woman can effectively run the office better than any man.
Interest in leading FCT FA
Not right now, I have a lot of projects I want to do, I want to impact lives as long as I’m able to do it. I will support anybody who has the right attitude to help me, not to stop me from achieving my result. That office, I maynever be interested not right now .
Expectations from Super Falcons ahead of 2019 Women World Cup
The truth is that in any situation the computer people say “garbage in garbage out ”, for you to win there are so many aspect of preparation, so many factors you must consider.
First, the talent which Nigerians have in abundant. Second, harnessing the talent, reaching out to all the hooks and crannies in this country to pick the best, not recycling those that their names are already on the lips of everybody. You must pick players based on their current front and you must not limit it on international or local. You must pick the best player at the material time when you are going for the competition. Then you must expose the players to very high caliber friendly matches.
You must also give the coaches the freedom they require, give them resources they need, give the players reasonable period of camping, expose them to the region and the environment where the competition is to be played.
One major thing is to pay them their allowances, reduce this ideology that boys are better than girls, then you pay them less considering that everyone has responsibilities, especially those children, most of their families depend on them and depend on whatever they earn to survive.
Create enabling environment for them to give you the best, make them happy,