Interest in the women’s game has steadily seen an uptick in recent years and Barcelona’s Femini’s recent clash with Real Madrid certainly proves this. Situated in the hallowed Camp Nou stadium, the match drew a historic crowd of 91,553.
The record surpassed the 1999 Women’s World Cup played in front of 90,185 fans at the Rose Bowl in California, USA. Tickets for the game, which Barca won 5-2 to progress to the semi-finals 8-3 on aggregate, sold out in just three days.
Over the years, women’s football has received a new lease of life. More teams are being created, competition prize money is being increased, female football stars are being marketed heavily. No longer is women’s football an afterthought; it has grown to be respected, and the sport is growing at an exponential rate.
We have seen big powerhouses like Real Madrid and Manchester United starting their own Women teams. English clubs like Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham have also allowed their respective women’s teams to play matches in the men’s stadium, Corporate bodies like Nike and Adidas have also signed female football stars to juicy boot contracts. This serves to prove a change in perspective – that the big clubs and corporate bodies are taking notice of a booming market.
The women’s El Clasico is not the only match that has drawn large crowds, the 2019 Women’s World Cup final attracted 57,900 fans; 77,768 England fans flocked Wembley for a friendly against Germany in November 2019, and just a few months after, 60,739 people watched Atletico Madrid play Barca Femini at the Wanda Metropolitano.
In 2018, The Ballon d’Or Féminin also known as the Women’s Ballon d’Or, an award that honours the best female football player on the planet was presented by France Football, with Ada Hegerberg of Norway women’s national football team becoming the inaugural recipient of the award. Alex Putellas of Barcelona Femini won the 2021 Women’s Ballon d’Or to spectacular fanfare. The creation of the award was a key moment in women’s football history because it showed the legitimacy of the women’s game.
Women’s football is increasingly popular in Africa and Nigeria’s national women’s football team with recognisable names like Asisat Oshoala, Desire Oparanozie, Perpetua Nkwocha, Maureen Mmadu, among others. The Nigerian Women’s team is by far Africa’s most successful women’s football team at all age grades, with the Super Falcons (Nigeria Women Senior Team) winning a record 11 Africa Women Cup of Nations titles – their most recent title in 2018, after defeating South Africa in the final.
The Super Falcons remain the only women’s national team from Africa to have reached the quarterfinals in both the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the Olympics. The Super Falcons are part of an exclusive club in women’s football as they are one of the few teams in the world to have qualified for every edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Nigeria’s U-20 team (The Falconets) has qualified for every edition of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and have been runners-up twice. The team has won the African U-20 Women’s World Cup qualification twice in 2002 and 2004, the Falconets also secured the Gold medal at the African Games in 2019
The National Women Under-17 Team (the Flamingos) have also shown success winning the African U-17 Cup of Nations for Women on five occasions with the most recent coming in 2016.
Womens football is becoming increasingly popular among Nigerians and corporate bodies like MTN Nigeria have shown massive support towards the team and are at the core of driving this popularity. Following its partnership with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) making them the official communications sponsor of the national teams. MTN has remained committed to the development of the National Women Team (the Super Falcons), the National Female Under-20 team (the Falconets), and the National Women Under-17 Team (the Flamingos) in the country.
Coming off the heels of the three-year agreement with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), MTN Nigeria threw its weight behind female football in the country by becoming a platinum sponsor of the Aisha Buhari Cup. Aisha Buhari Invitational tournament is a football tournament organized by the Nigerian football federation for the female national team. The Inaugural edition was held in Lagos with both FIFA and CAF president honoring the event The South Africa women’s national team won the inaugural edition, which was held at the Mobolaji Johnson Stadium, Lagos, Nigeria.
Since the partnership, MTN Nigeria has become a mainstay at the stadium showing support to the female football team. The digital leader has also turned up the viewing experience for the football fans and given fans electrifying experiences. Speaking on MTN Nigeria’s support for the women’s football teams, the Chief Marketing Officer, MTN Nigeria, Adia Sowho said, “We want to make our female footballers superstars, we need them to be respected as the entities of the world. We should be talking about them and celebrating them as much. So that’s one of the reasons we chose to partner with NFF as a whole and not just the Eagles team.”
We recently witnessed a massive crowd of 60,000 at the FIFA World Cup qualifier between Nigeria and Ghana in Abuja. With unwavering support from corporate bodies like MTN Nigeria, a time is coming in the near future when we will witness a massive crowd turn out for the national women’s team.