Editorial – Who gives a damn about female footballers?

On the 26th of October 2014, Super Falcons, the female national team, became Africa’s champions for the seventh time. As expected this feat went largely unnoticed, it wasn’t until 24hrs after the girls won the championship that the first post was put up by a Nigerian newspaper, The Sun. This is quite unlike the way self-appointed football analysts, on ‘twitterville’ and Facebook, updated the very breath each member of the Super Eagles squad (their male counterparts) drew in their last outing.

The general feeling one gets is that ‘they are just girls’ playing at playing football.

Omolayo in action, playing for Osun state(Oyinlola Queens) against Oyo state in 2005
Omolayo in action, playing for Osun state(Oyinlola Queens) against Oyo state in 2005

Although one is permitted to imagine that these effete footballers, spent 2hours sighing and fainting all over the field, or maybe…checking to ensure that their make-up has not been mussed during such perspiration making exercise … but one cannot get away with pretending ignorance about the hard fact that female footballers use the same set of muscles as their male counterparts, they train as hard, for as long and are as skilled as any male footballer.

Unfortunately, this view is not shared by sports administrators within the country, as the disparity in the payment of male footballers and female footballers is quite high.

Since 2005, Nigerian female football has had professional football players, not only playing in Nigeria, but all over Europe and America, and this year, the different female teams within states finally got a premier league. But this hasn’t affected the fact that female football players are not given the same contracts as their male counterparts, especially when it comes to medical aid.

There are many football related injuries, but the most common suffered by footballers are knee injuries. A knee injury can easily mar the career of a young footballer if not managed properly, and this seems to be the case with many of our female footballers.

According to Omolayo Adebiyi, the former captain of Oyinlola Queens of Ogbomoso, “immediately they realise you’re not useful again, they dump you.” She had been used like that and the injury she sustained from Oyinlola Queens has marred her football career, a sport that she has dedicated her life to since she was thirteen years old.

She told 9jafeminista about how she got injured during a match in 2007, and instead of taking her for medical care her coach

Briefly a member of falconets
Briefly a member of Falconets

then, Adebayo Lawrence, used to pray over her leg “he will put my leg on top of a grinding stone, grind it, at the same time pour ‘prayer waters’ over it and chant incantations.” He also gave her a powerful injection that strengthened her enough to play, “but after the match has ended, I usually see hell.”

This went on for a while until the kneecap was totally detached from its socket and she had to go off camp to get medical aid. She was fired.

You can watch the first part of the video of our interview with her here.

Seven years later Omolayo is still battling with this knee injury that keeps reoccurring and has kept her off the playing field.

Omolayo’s story is just one of many.

Keep an eye on this space.

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