Sports

Nigeria: Super Eagles, Super Falcons, and Other Not-So-Super Names


Is the media biased in the reportage of female football games in comparison with male games?

… when it comes to the names of female football teams, it’s all downhill from here. We no longer have creative names that can inspire energy, agility, and prowess. Qualities that come in handy in the game of football. Somewhere in the minds of those who manufacture the names of Nigerian football teams is the idea that things somehow work differently when it comes to female players… Thus, the female teams at the state level (and clubs) all get epithets such as “Queens”, “Babes”, and “Angels”.

“Religion”, according to Karl Marx, “is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” It would be right to say that in the context of Nigeria, football is the opium (igbo, weed, ganja) of Nigerians, sedating many from the general social malaise.

As the Sunday service in church, football is a unique opportunity for Nigerians of whatever origin, gender, or class, to gather around a special team they love and idolise, and have the rare liberty to scream, shout, cry, laugh, hug and under certain circumstances, agree to disagree agreeably. Let no one take this tranquilliser away from a people so beleaguered by uncountable challenges: they mostly generate their power and water, service very expensive private schools, amid rising inflation, unemployment, insecurity, and fear that the situation could deteriorate further.

And even as beautiful and unifying as the described activity around football is, there is still an undeniable preference for and focus on the male gender in this sport.

Let’s start with the basics: the actual names of the male and female teams, national and state-level alike. Here, I stand to disagree with Shakespeare’s Juliet that a rose by any other name would smell equally as sweet. There is more to a name than meets the eye. Otherwise, why would parents of new-born children put so much sweat into creating names so complicated to pronounce? A name could be a story or even a prophecy. One would have to award a gold medal to Yoruba parents for this creative art of meaningful baby naming. Many pastors face the tongue-twisting and arduous task of pronouncing complex and complicated names when presiding over baby dedication Sundays, especially as they have to pronounce four to five of these complex names per child… Oluwasoromidayo, Ayooluwaseyifunmi, Obatotosinloluwa.

But let me not digress from the names of Nigerian football teams. We have the Super Eagles vs the Super Falcons. Falcons are the fastest of God’s creatures, renowned for precision and speed. The world’s fastest is the PeregrineFalcon, reputed to achieve dives at a record speed of 320 kilometres/hour. They can also change direction rapidly. Eagles are known for their strength, keen eyesight, and they symbolise courage and speed. They are a favourite for national emblems. Nigeria’s coat of arms bears a red Eagle, symbolising the nation’s strength. Both falcons and eagles are birds of prey and symbolically can devour their competition. These are all excellent credentials for a footballer, whether male or female.

However, when it comes to the names of female football teams, it’s all downhill from here. We no longer have creative names that can inspire energy, agility, and prowess. Qualities that come in handy in the game of football. Somewhere in the minds of those who manufacture the names of Nigerian football teams is the idea that things somehow work differently when it comes to female players (what are they doing on the football field anyway?) Creative branding is given the least bit of thought. Thus, the female teams at the state level (and clubs) all get epithets such as “Queens”, “Babes”, and “Angels”. If you think this sounds absurd, you are not alone. After all, what do qualities such as being royal, angelic, or babyish have to do with the game of football?

Let’s look at their worth in terms of remuneration, incentives etc. This is the koko (crux of the matter) because globally, males attract better remuneration than females for the same job roles. Both males and females pretty much put in equal time in training, dedication and sometimes women record better wins but when pay day arrives, they receive way less attention and benefits.

Women who play football at the highest levels undergo an incredible amount of training, just as the men do. The Super Falcons are recognised as one of Africa’s most successful international women’s football teams on record as winning eleven Africa Women Cup of Nations titles, with their most recent win recorded in 2018 during a match in which they defeated South Africa.

Within the Confederation of African football, the Super Falcons are the only women’s national team to make it to the quarter finals in the Summer Olympics and the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Wait a second! Did you know, and I only just found out, when the world goes agog over “the FIFA World Cup” we are really talking about the “Men’s” World Cup because the women’s version is separated by one year from the men’s cup and does not receive as much hype.

Let’s look at their worth in terms of remuneration, incentives etc. This is the koko (crux of the matter) because globally, males attract better remuneration than females for the same job roles. Both males and females pretty much put in equal time in training, dedication and sometimes women record better wins but when pay day arrives, they receive way less attention and benefits.

Onome Ebi is a name I had never heard of, although she has represented Nigeria in five World Cup events (sorry, five Female World Cup events!) Yet, even as a football neophyte, I can reel off names of male players as though they are close family. This raises the question: Is the media biased in the reportage of female football games in comparison with male games?