By Tony Ubani
President of the Nigeria Football Federation and FIFA Council Member, Mr Amaju Melvin Pinnick says that the presence of President of world –governing body FIFA, Mr Gianni Infantino and CAF President, Dr Patrice Motsepe at the opening ceremony of the maiden Aisha Buhari Invitational Tournament in Lagos on Wednesday is a huge fillip to the push for more interest and attention to the challenges confronting the girl-child all over the African continent.
“I feel very happy that Mr Infantino and Dr Motsepe were able to grace the opening ceremony of this special tournament. It is a bonus and a boost for the girl-child advocacy.
It shows there is genuine desire and keen interest of football leaders to not only improve the standard and visibility of the women’s game, but to scale up the lot of the girl-player economically and ensure she can earn as well as the boy-player.
“Already, we can see that desire and interest manifest with the increase in the participating teams at the FIFA Women’s World Cup to 32 – the same number as the men’s finals – as from the next competition in 2023. On the African front, the Confederation of African Football has put in place a CAF Women Champions League which finals will hold in November. All these are key building blocks to improving the lot of the girl-player.”
Infantino and billionaire businessman Motsepe who took the reins of the African football –ruling body six months ago landed in the City of Lagos on Wednesday, hours before the commencement of a tournament staged in honour of the name and Office of the First Lady of the Federal Republic, Dr (Mrs) Aisha Buhari and with the instrumental theme, Playing for Good
It also dovetails with the key objectives of the First Lady’s Future Assured Programme (under the Aisha Buhari Foundation), which is concerned with the health, education and economic empowerment of women and the girl-child.
The two prominent figures in the global game shared the presidential box of the remodeled Mobolaji Johnson Arena on Lagos Island with top –ranking political figures such as Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos, his wife Ibijoke, Youth and Sports Development Minister Sunday Dare and the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen.
There were also FA presidents from other African nations, including Ghana FA President Kurt Okraku (who is also president of the WAFU B) and the president of Mali FA, Mamoutou Toure.
Infantino and Motsepe were then treated to a blue-riband dinner at the Sky Lounge of the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, where they mingled with the best of Nigeria corporates that included billionaire businessman Aliko Dangote, Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele and chief executive officers of NFF’s partner and sponsor-companies.
On Thursday morning, both eminent men flew to the nation’s Federal Capital, Abuja where they met with President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR at the Presidential Villa.