The popularity of women’s soccer has increased exponentially since the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991 and the Africa teams have been a great part of the competition over time since the creation of the African Women’s Championship – which is an international women’s football competition held every two years and sanctioned by the Confederation of African Football (CAF). It was first contested in 1991, but was not held biennially until 1998.
The competition has served as a qualifying tournament for the FIFA Women’s World Cup every other year since its inception in 1991, and it has helped improved the growth of the round leather game and with the improved quality of play has come a steady stream of great players over the years.
Every year, from the hazy ether of world sport, the Super Falcons rises up and seems to unite a nation like no other team has in Africa over a decade or more with their impressive style of play, their fearless attitude in front of goal and their most controversial dominance in the game.
The Nigeria women national team nicknamed Super Falcons is the most successful team in Africa, they are the first team to have won the African women championship in 1991. The team has since then dominated the championship and has won it a record 8 times – 1995, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2014.
With their recent 2 – 0 triumphs over Cameroon in the African Women Championship, a handful of the players are transcendent. Mercy Aigbe is one of the best women’s players in history, with a knack for game-changing plays, which earned her a place in the history book as the first player that was awarded the Africa women footballer of the year in 2001. Nigeria players have since then won the award 7 other times, with Perpetual Nkwocha notching 4 times and Cynthia Uwak who won it in 2006 and 2007.
Words aren’t just enough to describe the sterling contribution of Nigeria’s Perpetual Nkwocha in Africa; the Sunnanå SK player is the first to have won the Africa women player of the year award for a record 4 times – 2004, 2005, 2010 and 2011.
In spite of their success in Africa, the Super Falcons have been unable to dominate beyond Africa in the FIFA Women’s World Cup or the Olympic Games. The team has been to every World Cup since 1991, but managed just once to finish in the top eight.
At the risk of sounding too grandiose, these women seem to embody some sort of ‘Winning Spirit’, one that’s been gradually eroding since the introduction of the Team in 1991. Though their matches are serious and highly-pressured affairs, they seem—at least to our eyes in African football — the Queens of African Women Championship.