Wife of the President and First Lady of the Republic, Mrs Rebecca Naa Okaikor Akufo-Addo has announced that the maiden edition of the First Lady’s Cup will be played on Friday, December 10th, at the Accra Sports Stadium.
Mrs Akufo-Addo disclosed this when she launched the maiden “First Lady’s Cup Competition”, the women’s version of the President’s Cup, at her Ridge office in Accra.
She said the competition which will witness local women teams competing for the prestigious trophy ushers in a new era for women’s football in Ghana and also recognizes the importance of shining the spotlight on women’s football to give it the necessary push, stating that despite the plethora of challenges the Ghana women football face, “our women have given us enough to believe that, given the needed support, they can bring glory to Ghana”
Making reference to the first-ever CAF Women’s Football Strategy, which aims to shape the future of the women’s game, with the slogan #ItsTimeItsNow, Mrs Akufo-Addo said the time is right for Ghanaians to actively develop and promote women’s football.
The First Lady said she is aware of the many challenges facing women’s Football in Ghana, including the low remuneration of the players, poor infrastructure, lack of equipment and transport, and inadequate women personnel in the various teams, and stated that the event, shall among other things, solicit the support of all Ghanaians, for the establishment of the first Women’s School of Soccer Excellence in West Africa; a school which will train women coaches and other technical staff, to upgrade the capacity of women in the football industry. “I am eagerly looking forward to the day when the “Dug Out” would be fully filled by women with a woman as the Head Coach in women’s matches”, she said.
Mrs Akufo-Addo expressed optimism that programmes being pursued by various state agencies including Ghana Football Association (GFA), Ghana League Clubs Association (GHALCA), the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Education, such as FIFA’s “Boots for Books” project, the appointment of a woman to the GHALCA Executive Council and GHALCA’s intended collaboration with the University of Professional Studies and Accountancy to run a professional leadership course in Football Administration, for members during the next semester will lead to a significant development in the country’s women football industry.
On the matter of financial challenges being faced by some female teams which makes paying players a decent wage a problem, the First Lady recommended to GHALCA, to engage the Captains of Industry, so they can provide pro bono business development services to the clubs and urged female Captains of Industry to adopt the female teams and equip them with the necessary skills and capacity to run their teams better. She also called on government to look at emoluments and bonuses paid to female national teams and officials, to make it more equitable.
Mrs. Akufo-Addo charged GHALCA to establish the necessary platforms where various stakeholders, including the media and potential sponsors can engage each other to improve on the country’s women’s football industry.
The First Lady cautioning industry players on the need to pay particular attention to take steps that allow women to find the balance between their roles as footballers and other roles as women, in order to avoid the situation where they become destitute after retiring from active football, as they will not serve as inspiration to young girls who would want to participate in the sport.
Chief of Staff, Hon. Akosua Frema Osei-Opare who chaired the function said football is the passion of the nation and that is why it attracts huge investments from government for the provision of infrastructure and participation in international competitions. She said it is time for Ghanaians to rally behind it to help it to grow to a stage where Ghana can also win the women version of the African and World Cups.
Mrs Osei-Opare also congratulated the First Lady for adding women football to her numerous responsibilities, as another conduit to women empowerment and to help the underprivileged in society.
She pledged her personal support to the initiative and also urged the private sector to lend their full support to ensure that the right structures are put in place to sustain this laudable venture and steer it through any turbulence, to success.
Also present to grace the occasion were the Second Lady of the Republic, Hajia Samira Bawumia, Minister for Youth and Sports, Hon. Mustapha Ussif, Acting Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Hon. Cecilia Abena Dapaah who expressed their country’s support to the blossoming of women soccer in the country and the world at large.