The Chairperson of the Nigeria Women Football League, NWFL, Aisha Falode, Thursday 14th July remembered the late board member of the NWFL and President of the Female Football Interest Group, Henrietta Ukaigwe, whose two years memorial was celebrated across the country with a lecture on the life and time of Henrieta Ukaigwe a Pathfinder in women's football development held by Wakawaka Sports Extra at the Imo State football Association.
Late Ms Ukaigwe is fondly being remembered across the country by women’s football proponents, the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, Lagos State Chapter, where she was a former vice Chairman and the teeming Nigerian Women’s football clubs, players and coaches.
Falode, who served on the same board with Ukaigwe before her death on July 14, 2020, was represented by a member of the board , Mr Joe Amene, said that, the women’s football family lost a great gem, who had the development of the gender game in her DNA.
“She spent most parts of her life on the development of women’s football in Nigeria, both at the league level and the national teams.
“She contributed in no small measure to move women’s football to the next level. There is no doubt that, the massive developmental works and massive commitment to ensure, the game is accepted in all nooks and crannies of Nigeria, contributed in no measure to get the women’s league to where it is today.
“Henrietta, left us at the time Nigerian Women’s Football needed her so much.Though, she is no more today, her great works in her lifetime are still pointers to the revolution witnessed in the women’s league over the years.
“She fought for the general acceptance of women’s football, players’ welfare and equal treatment with the men’s folks. She was openly against the preferencial treatment given to the men’s footballers compared to the women’s. It was however a great delight for her to see in her lifetime, the equal bonuses and allowances the Nigeria Football Federation paid to the Super Falcons players at the Ghana 2018 Women African Cup of Nations.
“This was further boosted over the years with the equal remuneration at the club level, by the Edo and Bayelsa States Governments few years down the line, in line with the global trend for parity for the men and women clubs across the world championed by American football players.
“In Nigeria, we are hoping that more states and privately owned clubsides follow suits in this revolution.”
Falode, who is the Leader of Delegation of the Super Falcons team to the Morocco 2022 Women’s African Cup of Nations, stressed that, Henrietta Ukaigwe’s demise was a big blow.
“We wanted her, but God wanted more. But the Nigeria Women Football League and women’s football generally in Nigeria, got consolation in the lifelong contributions made by Henrietta during her lifetime.
“She will forever remain in our hearts. If she was not gone, she would have been in Morocco with us supporting the Super Falcons.
“Henrietta Ukaigwe witnessed all the nine Nations Cup titles won by the Super Falcons. And this edition is the first WAFCON tournament she is not witnessing and that is why we are sad that she is not with us here in Morocco to see the Falcons win again.
“She also watched the Super Falcons in all editions of FIFA Women’s World Cup since 1995 in Sweden. Henrietta was an embodiment of women’s football not only in Africa, but also at the international stage. She served as a long term Media Officer of the Super Falcons, before graduating to serve as a General Co-ordinator of the national women’s senior soccer team.
“Very soon, we shall be instituting a merit award and football tournament in her memory.” Aisha Falode said
On his part, Mr Joe Amene thanked the Chairperson of the league and Wakawaka Sports Extra for keeping the dream of Henrieta alive through the program.
Other dignitaries that graced the occasion are; Coach Alfonsus Dike , Nicholas Ukadike, Cosmos Chukwuemeka, Jenny Anusiem, Mrs Sabi Ekeh, Mr Humphrey Njoku, Imo State FA, and the representative of the female teams in the state.
The CEO of Wakawaka Sports Extra, Mr Kennedy , said it's an opportunity to let the world know that Ukaigwe is dead but her good work while on earth speaks for her and eulogies the NWFL for sending a representative for the second year program.
Meanwhile the national coordinator of Police campaign against Cultism and other Vices, CSP Ebere Amaraiuzu said, she used the instrumentality of sports to promote those good values aimed at making our children to thrive for a greater society which made her a roll model for the young generation.