175 days after: FG yet to fulfill pledge of hosting Flamingos

The Federal Government is yet to host the U-17 women’s national team, the Flamingos, 175 days after it pledged to receive the bronze-winning team at the 2022 U-17 Women’s World Cup in India, The PUNCH reports.

The Flamingos claimed their first-ever bronze medal at the U-17 Women’s World Cup in India after defeating favourites Germany 3-2 on penalties.

Having consistently failed to get past the last eight of the competition, Bankole Olowookere’s side overcame the free-scoring USA on penalties to book a place with Colombia in the semi-finals.

The South Americans, however, ended the Flamingos’ dream of reaching the final after they triumphed 6-5 on penalties.

The Flamingos would go on to claim the bronze medal in the third-place match, avenging their opening 2-1 defeat against Germany, beating the European champions 3-2 on penalties after 90 minutes of football ended 3-3.

It was Africa’s first-ever podium finish at the competition.

Apart from claiming the ‘Golden Bronze’, the tournament was also one to remember for forward Opeyemi Ajakaye, who clinched three player-of-the-match awards in India.

Upon their return to the country, the Nigeria Football Federation, in a communique November 1, 2022, stated that the FG would receive the players in Abuja.

“The Presidency will host the team at a later date,” read a part of the statement.

Speaking with The PUNCH, a member of the technical crew, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated, “Till this very moment, we are yet to meet with the President as promised and it is so sad because people who didn’t do as much as we did have been given the opportunity to meet with him.

“When we arrived we were told that the President would host us, but he wasn’t around as at that time, even the sports minister told us the same thing, but now they are almost out of office, which means the promises made to the girls won’t be fulfilled.

“This is not good for the girls because it means they won’t have faith and belief in the country anymore. They are not begging for money, they just want to feel important, just as everyone.”

Toyin Ibitoye, media aide to the sports minister, blamed the President’s tight schedule for the inability to host the players.

“Yes, the promise was made by the minister, but it was subject to the schedule, programme and availability of Mr President,” Ibitoye told The PUNCH.

“Between then and now, a lot has happened and plans may have changed. All the arrangements were to show appreciation to the girls for all they achieved for the nation and the continent and the fact that the minister, ministry and NFF hosted the team on arrival also fully expressed that appreciation.”

Asked if the President would still host the team, with just 33 days before his exit from the Presidential Villa, Ibitoye added, “I cannot say, it may be tough to achieve that now, but anything is possible.”


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