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.
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.
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.