By CHUKS EKE*
Barely two weeks to fly to Morocco for a continental football tournament, visa, hotel accommodation and feeding fees estimated at N10 million may pose an obstacle for Maureen Madu’s Under 16 female football players who are currently in high spirits to fly to Morocco in mid-September.
Similar visa palaver had stalled the team simply known as Maureen Madu kids from flying to Denmark for international football tournaments in recent times.
Proprietor of Maureen Madu U- 16 women football team, Maureen Madu who disclosed this to newsmen in Onitsha, Anambra State on Wednesday at their Metropolitan College training ground, lamented that if the government and non-governmental organisations, as well as individuals and sports lovers, do not come to their aid financially, the team may not fly to Morocco as scheduled.
Maureen Madu, an ex-Super Falcons striker and currently an Assistant Coach of Nigeria’s female national team, said she specifically left Norway where she is currently based and came down to Anambra State where she started her soccer career to form the U-16 female team in order to assemble talented girls who will succeed them in future and become useful to themselves and the Nigerian nation.
She further lamented that after spending over N10 million from her personal purse to prepare the girls for the Denmark football encounter and procure international passports for each of them, the Danish authorities denied them visas which made some of the girl players faint on hearing about the denial while they were already in Lagos waiting to fly to Denmark.
She, therefore, appealed to sports lovers and philanthropists both from governmental and nongovernmental organisations to assist her with more than N10 million to complete the payment of their visa fees, having already deposited a part payment of about N5 million for the Moroccan visa, remaining a balance of N5 million, excluding flight ticket, feeding and hotel accommodation for both the players and officials of the team for the period the tournament would last in Morocco.
She said it is very important the team fly to Morocco in two weeks’ time, as scheduled to participate in the tournament to help the girls showcase their talents which would in turn expose them to the soccer world so that they can rise like other famous world soccer stars like Mercy Akide, Asisat Oshoala, herself and others.
She said since the parents of these teenage girls do not have the financial muscle to sponsor their trip to Morocco, she was ready to sponsor everything from her personal pocket but for the fact that she had already sunk millions of her savings into the botched Denmark trip not quite a long time ago and which went down the drain before this Morocco invitational, financial assistance from public-spirited individuals would be required to set the ball rolling.
Specifically, Madu appealed to the Anambra state Ministry of Youths and Sports, the state Football Association, the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF and all lovers of sports nationwide not to allow these talented little girls to fail to embark on this all-important Morocco trip merely because of lack of funds.
“I am comfortable in my base in Norway but I am not comfortable that these talents which I fought very hard to discover are denied the necessary expose they require to grow as big-time footballers by failing to fly them to Morocco because of money having failed to fly to Denmark in the recent time because of visa denial”.