High profile Nigerian women’s football promoter and administrator, Henrietta Ukaigwe, has passed on after battling complications from an ulcer at the Ikeja General Hospital, Lagos, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. News of the death of the leading football promoter has thrown the Nigerian football world into mourning. A prominent member of the Board of the Nigeria Women Football League (NWPL), Ukaigwe for several decades was notable for promoting women’s football within and outside Nigeria.
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Ukaigwe was highly credited for the wide traction gained by women’s football from the 1990s which saw the Super Falcons dominate African football as Nigeria became a permanent fixture in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Her love for female football would see her lead and form part of a group of reporters and stakeholders passionate about women’s football in Nigeria which birthed the Female Football Interest Group (FFIG), an establishment that actively promoted and projected women’s football in good light, making women’s football the major focus of media houses and the general public in the nineties.
“The death of Henrietta Ukaigwe is a devastating blow to the game of women’s football in Nigeria. We are still in rude shock at her premature departure, but we collectively take solace in the fact that she left her formidable footprints in the sands of time. We pray that God will give her eternal rest and also grant those she has left behind the fortitude to bear the big loss.”
Dr Mohammed Sanusi
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Aside from reporting games, the FFIG also worked tirelessly towards organizing football tournaments for women and provided huge support for women’s football administrators. These efforts would prove fruitful as Nigeria alongside other African countries raised formidable women football teams at the senior and junior levels that compete at continental and global levels. Today, there are 20 clubs in the Nigeria Women’s Football League, 12 clubs in the pro division, and dozens at the amateur level, including registered and unregistered teams. Nigeria now has female teams at all levels with huge participation in the FIFA Women’s World Cup at all levels.
Some of the media platforms the late Ukaigwe worked for, includes the MINAJ Broadcasting Service, Vanguard Newspaper, Super Screen television, and a lot more before working as the Co-ordinator for Nigeria women’s national senior team, the Super Falcons. The Chairperson of the NWFL, Aisha Falode, appointed her into the Board of the Nigeria Women Football League before her death.
“Words alone cannot describe the loss of Henrietta Ukaigwe. She was a warrior for the course of Nigeria women football development, a crusader who wanted to see women football on top all the time. Rest in peace Henrietta, until we meet to part no more.”
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