There was a time in Ghana when women's soccer drew crowds that could rival that of a men's league club. The year was 1989,the clubs, Labadi Monaco Ladies F.C versus Tema Supreme Ladies. The venue,Tema Sports Stadium,Tema, weather,bright and sunny,the atmosphere,electrifying.
I found myself among the teeming fans just to satisfy my curiosity after having had an ear full by a pal who had invested so much into the sport. A one time Ghana's prolific goal poacher, George Alhassan of Accra Great Olympics fame. You see, Jair as we affectionately call him had retired from soccer after a stellar career and so decides to set up a women's soccer team how absurd is this ? Anyway, so i decide to find out what the fuss was all about.
The game kicks off,the stadium is packed to the rafters,in the scorching heat with no seats or shelter from the sun, i witness a spectacle i shall never forget. The quality of soccer was exceptional and to think these were women got me asking more questions.I later found out that,with the exception of one club POSTCOM Ladies F.C who were sponsored by the then Post and Telecommunication company,all other clubs were financed by average Joes whose love for womens soccer compelled them to invest their time and hard earned resources into the sport. So, I asked who sponsors this league ? and the answer was "we have no sponsors, we do everything out of pocket,from little allowances to the cost of transportation to match venues and food for our girls,it's difficult but we're striving hard".This answer resonates with majority of club owners from Algeria to Zimbabwe.
Nigeria in the early 1990's could boast of one of the best women's leagues on the continent obviously the league is suffering today from lack of sponsorship.Where did it all go wrong ?The coordinator of the Nigerian Women's Footbaal League (NWFL) lamented on the need for sponsorship when he spoke to journalists about the subject. Why is women's soccer not given the needed attention by corporate bodies,why is women's soccer not getting the needed support in order to thrive ? If the Princess Jegedes of Nigeria,the Sam Badus and the Habiba Attas of Ghana and others could single handedly shoulder the responsibility of managing their clubs at a time when women's soccer was not as popular as it is today why can't the FA's in Africa take over the mantle of securing sponsorship deals for their leagues ?
Recently the South Africa Football Association in partnership with ABSA (a banking organization) launched the highly anticipated ABSA women's soccer league,would it hurt to have other FA's learn from the South African experience ? Women's soccer has come a long way and so demands equal attention accorded our male counterparts. It therefore behoves all stake holders to create a conducive environment for the sport,so as to attract sponsors.Let's not remain reticent about the problem neither should we wait till it's too late,women's soccer will pay dividends if much attention is given the sport. In solidarity with our sisters in Kenya who had to pull out of the All Africa games qualifiers for lack of sponsorship among other issues and are crying out for help, and all women's soccer clubs on the continent,I am appealing to all potential sponsors, help save the women's soccer on the continent, for we have what it takes to shine !