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A Case for Levelling the Playing Field in Nigeria

Not too long ago, Desire Oparanozie, then captain of the Nigerian women’s football team, again demanded equal pay for female Nigerian players. In Nigeria, female players are paid woefully less than their male counterparts in comparable international roles and her call had come after her team’s sit-in over unpaid bonuses and allowances for the 2019 World Cup. Women’s football is increasingly popular in Africa, with the Confederation for African Football recently introducing a continent-wide competition for women at club level. And Nigeria’s national women’s football team – The Falcons – have long maintained domination of national team football in Africa. They’ve won 11 of 13 championships including the inaugural one in 1991 and the latest edition in 2018. Yet despite this domination and fame, they are not treated as equal to the men’s team that has not dominated its African opponents. Researchers chronicled the struggle of these women – and their spirit of resistance in demanding human rights and visibility. It’s a spirit that can be traced back to the beginning of the women’s game in Nigeria.