Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Players lament poor welfare, seek Aisha Buhari’s help

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Aisha Buhari

Players of the Super Falcons have appealed to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to make good its promise of paying their entitlement and that of the officials.

Before the game against Kenya at the Omisport Stadium in Limbe on Saturday, there were insinuations in various quarters that the players had vowed not to play the match unless the NFF settled them. It turned out to be a false alarm, which according to Coach Florence Omagbemi was a calculated attempt by some people to distract the team.

However, some of the players feel the NFF is not playing the role of a father. “It was not true that we threatened to embark on strike to press home our demands,” one of the players told The Guardian shortly after the match against Kenya. “But I think the NFF should make good its promises by paying us our entitlement. We don’t want what happened to a player of the U-20 team (Falconets) to befall us. We played two matches during the qualifiers for the Nations Cup against Senegal, which we won. That was in April. Till this moment, the NFF has not paid us those winning bonuses. Is that really fair?”

Speaking further, the player revealed that their camp allowances for one month in Abuja had not been paid. “Before now, what they normally gave us as camp allowance was N1,000 daily and officials N1,500. You can do that calculation for 30 days. Again, they are supposed to pay us $100 daily allowances for the last five days before our departure for any international competition. The officials are supposed to get $150 per day for the five days.

All that is still pending. Since we came to Cameroun, nobody has talked about our daily allowances and bonuses for the matches we won. We are human beings and we have family back home. They have been promising us even before we came to camp in Abuja. It is not fair. I am sure the NFF won’t do that to the Super Eagles, even though they couldn’t qualify for this same Nations Cup on two occasions now.

“As I said, we won’t embark on any strike because it will embarrass the nation before the international community. I am sure many people won’t even support that idea also, but I want Nigerians back home, particularly the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, and women of honour in both the Senate and House of Representatives to stand for us.

“We know the economic situation back home, but that does not mean that a national team like the Super Falcons, who have won seven Nations Cup titles, should be subjected to ridicule.

Even the coaches have not been paid their salaries since March when they were appointed. It is not fair. It is killing our morale. If the NFF does not have money, the Presidency should provide money for the federation to pay us. The Vice President came to speak to us when we were in camp in Abuja, and we thought ‘rain will soon fall.’ We need the money. As I said, we won’t embark on strike. But if we are ignored and pushed to the wall, the reaction may not be good,” the player said.

Meanwhile, Team Coordinator of the Super Falcons, Mrs. Ejiro Femi-Babafemi has cleared the air on circumstances surrounding the $2,000 said to have be given to the team by NFF President, Amaju Pinnick before their departure to Cameroun.

According to some media reports, the money was meant for the players to share among themselves, but Babafemi has said it was not so.
“I think there are some people somewhere who just want to spoil the mind of these players. Sincerely speaking, the NFF President gave the team $2,000 before we left Lagos.

“The money was handed over to our secretary and it is purely for logistics but not to be shared among the players as painted by some media reports. For God’s sake, we are here for an assignment and the major focus is to defend our Nations Cup trophy. We don’t want any form of distractions. If we win the trophy, it will be for every Nigerian. We don’t want to fail. The media should also help us by verifying their stories before publishing them. They should know that we are ladies and not the Super Eagles who can absorb a lot of things. Our people (media) should allow the players to be focused. It is an appeal,” she pleaded.

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