Adeyinka Adedipe, Benin
The second Betsy Obaseki Women Football Tournament on Friday came to an end amidst pomp and pageantry with FC Robo Queens of Lagos crowned as champions after beating hosts Edo Queens 1-0 in an explosive final.
The 10-day event came to a thrilling conclusion, featuring scintillating cultural displays, singing, dancing and drumming as well as exciting displays by various groups to announce the end of the tournament.
The tournament, which is Nigeria’s only pre-season women’s football championship, is a brainchild of the wife of the Edo State Governor, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki.
The tournament, themed ‘Say No to Drugs’ was aimed at raising awareness on the adverse effects of drugs abuse by youths.
A seminar with over 10, 000 youths, eminent personalities, guests and representatives from Nigeria’s 36 states was also part of the tournament for a discourse to advance the campaign against drugs abuse, its various manifestations, impact on the sports industry and the larger society and the collective action to tackle the menace for the betterment of the society.
Present at the closing ceremony were the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; his deputy, Philip Shaibu; sports minister, Sunday Dare; ex-sports minister, Solomon Dalung, and governors’ wives from Sokoto, Enugu, Delta, Abia, Ogun, Oyo, Taraba and Bayelsa States led by the Chairperson of the Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum and First Lady of Ekiti State, Erelu Olabisi Fayemi, among others.
Other top personalities present were Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly, Marcus Onobun; Chairman, Edo State Sports Commission, Yusuf Ali and wife of Edo State Deputy Governor, Maryann Shaibu, among others.
Welcoming guests to the very colourful closing ceremony at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City, the tournament convener and the Edo State First Lady, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki, said, “I welcome you all to Edo State to witness the closing ceremony and final match of the second edition of the BOWFT at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City, Edo State.
“Be reminded that the theme of this year’s tournament is ‘Say No to Drugs.’”
On his part, Dare commended the Governor, his deputy and the Edo First Lady for the well-organised pre-season tournament.
“We are here again to watch the second edition of the biggest pre-season tournament in Edo State.
“What we saw here today is beautiful; a world-class tournament as can be seen in other developed nations of the world. What we saw here today is history and the power of women in sports is on display.
“I thank all the First Ladies here present to support this vision of our First Lady, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki. I appeal to them to go back home and replicate this in their various states. It can be in football or any other sports.
“At the just-concluded Commonwealth Games, 95 per cent of our medals were won by women and women are making us proud.”
Also, the Chairperson of the Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum and First Lady of Ekiti State, Erelu Olanisi Fayemi noted, “I am here with a powerful delegation of governors’ wives from Sokoto, Enugu, Delta, Abia, Ogun, Oyo, Taraba and Bayelsa States.
“We are here to support our sister. Sports is important for developing our self-esteem and discipline for our women. This year’s message is ‘say no to drugs’. As First Ladies, we have several issues in our minds which includes sexual-based violence and drugs abuse, amongst others. We are here to support this effort and say no to drugs as drugs can destroy a whole generation.”
The entertaining match between Robo FC and Edo Queens ended 1-0 in favour of the Lagos-based side, with Rukayat Oladeti grabbing the match winner in the 24th minute.
The champions got N5m while runners-up Edo Queens received N2.5m.
In the third-place match, Delta Queens defeated Nasarawa Amazons 4-2 on penalties after 120 minutes of exciting football ended goalless.
Speaking on their victory, Head Coach of Delta Queens, Tosan Blackson, said, “At least we played for pride and kept the standards. After losing a game at the group stage, we shouldn’t have lost against FC Robo at the semi-finals. Coming for the third-place match, we knew we must get it right. We knew the match was a must-win for us.”
Delta Queens were rewarded with N1.5m cash, while Nasarawa Amazons got N750,000.
Adeyinka Adedipe, Benin