All is set for the kick-off of the maiden edition of the Betsy Obaseki Women Football Tournament (BOWFT) slated for Sunday, September 26th, 2021 in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
The competition, with the theme, ‘Promoting the Girl Child’, is aimed at harnessing sporting talents in the state and tackling the scourge of irregular migration among teenage girls.
The Edo First Lady, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki, while addressing journalists at a press conference in Abuja, ahead of the games opening, said the tournament will hold in the ancient city of Benin between Sunday, 26th of September through Monday, 4th of October, 2021.
She listed the participating teams to include Edo Queens, Rivers Angels, Bayelsa Queens, Sunshine Queens, Robo FC, Heartland Queens and Royal Queens.
Others are Confluence Queens, Kaduna Queens, Naija Ratels, Fortress Ladies and Rolly FC.
According to her, “Four venues have been scheduled to host this tournament. These are the University of Benin Sports Complex, Western Boys High School, School of Health Technology Football Complex and the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium.
“Twelve prestigious women football clubs in the country have confirmed their attendance and participation. The teams will be arriving in Benin City on Sunday, September 26th, 2021. Our medical team has been put on standby to carry out the rapid test on all the players and officials on arrival, in line with COVID-19 protocols.”
She continued: “The draws for the tournament will be held that same day under the full glare of the media and will be streamed live online to ensure credibility and transparency.
“The first matches will be played in the morning at the three earlier mentioned venues on Monday, September 27th, while the opening event will be held at Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium at 4pm featuring the last match of the day.
The finals of the tournament will be played on Sunday, 3rd of October, 2021, after which trophies and consolation prizes will be handed over to participating clubs.”
The Edo First Lady, explaining the choice of the theme for the tournament, asserted: “Prior to the inception of my husband’s administration, human trafficking was rife in Edo State with Edo occupying the ignoble position of being the foremost state in the illicit trade.
“Five years down the line, Edo has moved to number five in the nation, owing to the commitment of this administration to job creation, infrastructural development, human capital development and the sheer will to tackle this menace headlong through innovative solutions.
“From the onset, I have delighted in my role, in the supportive capacity, to tackle this menace and other forms of gender-based violence through various initiatives targeted at the girl child. Among them are the Edo Women for Agriculture and Enterprise, Betsy Angels Shelter, Edo Youth Academy, among others.”
Mrs. Obaseki further stated: “Our efforts in tackling gender-based violence have also been yielding results, culminating in the inauguration of the Edo State Gender-Based Violence Management Committee, which I chair.
“Sports is not only a career, means of self-expression, empowerment opportunity but is also therapeutic. The Betsy Obaseki Women Football Tournament will be another veritable avenue in achieving this goal as it affords our girls the opportunity to showcase their skills and also provide mentors for those aspiring for future careers in the featured line of sports, promoting the sporting industry among grassroots women and girls.
“In addition to encouraging female participation in the sporting industry, the economic benefits that such a tournament will yield to those residing around points of play will be immense, particularly in the hospitality industry, food vending services and transportation industry.”
“It is also worthy of note that this tournament is funded by development partners and not the state government as we are embracing this initiative as a means of achieving sustainable growth in the sports industry in Edo State,” she added.