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How Abuja administration turns female footballers to beggars, prostitutes

July 14, 2013

The players have not been paid for about 18 months.
When Stephanie (not real name) joined FCT Queens football club of Abuja in 2011, she was overjoyed. Her chance of being a professional footballer and eventually playing for the Falcons, Nigeria’s senior female football team, was getting brighter.
Things would, however, not move as planned.
Owned by the Abuja administration, FCT Queens has, rather than enhance her football career, turned Stephanie and her teammates into beggars, and even something worse.
Formed about 15 years, the FCT Queens has not paid the salaries and allowances of its players for almost two years.
“The last time they paid anybody was in March last year. Even then they paid a backlog of about three years to some players. For 18 months now, we have not been paid a dime by the club,” Stephanie said.
FCT Queens
The FCT Queens is one of the 20 female football teams participating in the Nigeria Women Football League. It currently sits in 7th position of the Group B table: there are 10 teams in each group.
While the club prides itself as one of the top female teams in Nigeria, the players live in penury and in poor conditions.
When PREMIUM TIMES visited their hostel in Area 10, inside the Old Parade Ground in Abuja, it was smelly, shabby, and in very poor state despite the fact that the building was commissioned a few years ago.
Many of the players no longer live in the hostels; while the few there complained of their living condition, but begged that their names not be mentioned for fear of victimization.
“We have not been given food for almost two years now; we feed for ourselves. Sometimes, we contribute N50 each to buy few things to eat and survive,” a top player of the team said.
“We eat once a day; yet, they expect us to put in our best on an empty stomach,” she added.
The women’s league, like the men’s, is a round robin competition with all the clubs playing against one another on home and away basis. But just like players of FCT Queens are made to live in terrible conditions, they are made to travel in worse situations.
Travelling condition
On Tuesday, June 4, 15 players and three officials of the FCT Queens left Abuja at about noon to Lagos in an 18-seater bus. The team had a league game against Police Machine of Lagos the next day.
Though, each team is allowed to have 11 starters and seven substitutes on the bench for a football match, the Abuja club only went with four substitutes; as accommodating the three essential staff including the coach meant the bus could not take more than that. There was no option for a bigger vehicle as the team could barely afford the 18-seater. Also, due to lack of funds and other management problems threatening the Abuja team, they could only travel the 720-kilometre journey by road, a day before the game.
However, close to midnight, the bus broke down along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. The ladies, who would be playing a competitive match in less than 16 hours, were forced to sleep in the bus.
“It was a very terrible condition, many of us could not sleep, afraid of our lives. Some developed cramps as they sat all night in the bus,” one of the players said.
“We sleep on the road several times due to the bad state of the buses in which we travel, then the next day, we will still play a match- it’s not fair,” Stephanie said.
The fatigued players, with many injured, could barely play the match against their opponents. Fortunately for them, the home team did not turn up for the match. The team returned a day after the match was to have been played in a similar condition as their trip to Lagos.
“Many of us were sad, we knew we could do better, but what can we do. There was not even any medical treatment for any of us after the terrible journey.
Medical condition
The living and travel conditions the Abuja administration makes players go through is just as bad as the medical conditions; where no provision is made for the treatment of the players.
Football teams are expected to have medical personnel like doctors, physiotherapists, psychologists and so on.
FCT Queens has none
“They don’t care about our well being. When we are sick, they ignore us. There is no team doctor or physiotherapist. There is no medical insurance, players are just on their own.
Premium Times

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