ABUJA, NIGERIA - Nigeria’s women's football [soccer] team, the Super Falcons, has dominated the African Women’s Championship, winning nine titles since 1991. But the players have complained of low salaries, delayed paychecks, and being treated as second-class players to the men’s team.
Thirty-one-year-old Toochukwu Oluehi is the Number One goalkeeper on the Nigerian women's national team – the Super Falcons.
The team has won almost every African Women’s Championship since 1991, taking nine out of 11 recognized titles.
But despite their record, Oluehi and her teammates say they are too often overlooked and underpaid.
"We're the people bringing glory to the land. So, they should look into the females and try and concentrate more on the females and leave the boys. The boys are earning more than the girls,” Oluehi said.
The women's team is more dependent on government funding than the men's team, the Super Eagles, which has won three African titles. The men receive more corporate sponsorships and higher attendance at matches.
Even so, the women are not happy with the pay inequity.
Players on the men's team receive bonuses of up to $5,000 each for winning a big match, while members of the women's team rarely see bonuses of more than $1,500. The men also receive higher daily stipends.
The Sports Ministry's Usman Haruna says while public demand and corporate sponsorship affect salaries, the women are better paid than they used to be.
"I know what it used to be for the Falcons in terms of remuneration after a game. But this present administration, to be sincere with you, has lifted them from nowhere to where they are, which is by far more comfortable and better in the African context,” Haruna said.
Despite the challenges at home, Nigeria’s Super Falcons are preparing for this summer’s Women’s World Cup in France, says head coach Thomas Dennerby.
"Everything is good, all players are fit, no injuries at all, and that is a good start,” Dennerby said.
Nigeria’s women’s team has been to every World Cup since 1991, but only once made it to the quarterfinals.