Opinion: What NFF need from Flamingoes, Falconets, Falcons talent discovery model that could work for Super Eagles

Opinion: What NFF need from Flamingoes, Falconets, Falcons talent discovery model that could work for Super Eagles

By Bethel Kalu

The Super Falcons should provide a model for the Super Eagles and the NFF can work to make that model stronger

In the past 18 years, the Falconets and Flamingos have been the bedrock of the Super Falcons. They feed the senior team after each tournament and the coaches of the Falcons have helped with seamless progression of the girls

Since the U20 and U17 women’s world cup started, the youth teams have produced amazing talents for the Falcons and their progression has been smooth and have helped the Falcons to maintain dominance in Africa and rise to prominence in the world.

Let me start from 2010

In 2010, the Falconets got to the final of the world cup. In that team, we had Alaba Jonathan, Osinachi Ohale, Cecelia Nku, Glory Iroka, Desire Oparanozie, Helen Ukaonu, Amarachi Okoronkwo, Esther Sunday, Charity Adule, Ngozi Ebere, Ebere Orji, Josephine Chukwunonye and others. These girls moved to the Falcons and won the AWCON that same year and some played at the Senior World Cup in 2011. Oparanozie joined the Falcons after returning from the U20 world cup and scored 5 goals at AWCON

The Flamingoes played at the 2010 U17 World Cup and from there, Ngozi Okobi and Francisca Ordega joined the Falcons as 17 year olds and won the AWCON same year and Ordega even scored at AWCON as a 17 year old girl

Since then, the Falconets and Flamingoes have produced: Asisat Oshoala, Osarenoma Igbinovia, Uchenna Kanu, Joy Bokiri, Glory Ogbonna, Uchenna Kanu, Uchechi Sunday, Halimatu Ayinde, Ugo Njoku, Chiamaka Nnodozie, Monday Gift, Chinwendu Ihezuo, Rasheedat Ajibade, Vivian Ikechukwu, Chinaza Uchendu Chidinma Okeke, Peace Efih, Sarah Nnodim, etc

At the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, Chidinma Okeke provided a sublime assist to Asisat Oshoala. In 2018, she played at the junior world cup with Nnadozie and a year later, Okeke provided that assist for a goal that guaranteed Nigeria’s place in the round of 16 for the first time in 20 years while Asisat Oshoala, another product of the Falconets scored. In goal, Chiamaka Nnadozie made history as the youngest goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet at the World Cup. A year earlier in 2018, she was a Falconets player.

Time will probably not be enough to enumerate what the girls from the youth teams have done for the Falcons

These girls had played for the Falcons and won laurels with the team even before most of them turned 20 or 22

This model has sustained the Falcons for almost two decades and kept them relevant. This model can be replicated at the Eagles and the narratives could change

The NFF should also ensure that this model is not interrupted by the influx of Nigerian players born abroad into the national teams. This model has strengthened the league and the women’s team.

This is why attention must be given the Falconets and Flamingoes and thankfully, the NFF have shown their support and the Falconets have already qualified for another World Cup

The Flying Eagles and Golden Eaglets deserve this attention too, along with the U15 male team, the Future Eagles. This model can work to get our teams flying again.

Bethel Kalu writes from Aba, Abia State

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