The Nigeria Football Federation have inaugurated Faith Irabor as the head of the referees’ committee of the Nigerian FA, making her the first woman to occupy that position.
Prior to her appointment, Irabor, is a retired FIFA referee, former CAF Referee Instructor, the first Vice President of the Nigeria Referees Association since 2019 and also previously served as the Director of Sports of the Edo State Sports Ministry.
The referees’ committee is mandated by the NFF to deal with referees and other officiating-related matters across the domestic competitions in Nigeria, with the appointment taking immediate effect for the period of two years, from 2023-2025.
After Thursday’s inauguration, NFF president Ibrahim Gusau spoke exclusively to CAFOnline.com, explaining his choice of Irabor, as the first woman to lead the referees’ panel.
“Immediately, I was elected as NFF president, I promised that I will change the narratives. First of all, we tried as much as possible to make sure that we do what is right, and secondly, you see this is something that has never happened before,” Gusau told CAFOnline.com.
“If we have some women that are equally competent to do what we need them to do, at least I feel it’s important for us to give them the opportunity because these are people that I have been part of, and I know all their characters and behaviours.
“I say let us try a woman so that we would give her opportunity, we will give the women that opportunity to see how they can give us their contribution and to make sure that at least everybody is been carried along.
“We should not relegate our women and we would see a lot of appointments coming for women very soon during my tenure.”
On her historic appointment as the first woman, Irabor expressed excitement about the unique opportunity to bring her wealth of experience and knowledge to bear, while recounting her incredible storied journey.
“I’m excited because It is an opportunity to bring my experience on board as I have been in the field for years, as a retired FIFA referee, and a one-time CAF instructor up until five years ago,” Irabor told CAFOnline.com.
“So I am in very familiar terrain. So for Nigeria, it is a huge task and the president has promised to give us a level playing ground and we will do our best to change the narratives.
“As a woman, I have always enjoyed landmark achievements when FIFA was picking referees for the first time in 1995, I was one of them. For the first time, I was among the first eight CAF instructors as, that’s technical, and the first woman.
“In our Nigeria Referees Association, I’m also the first woman to be first vice president. It’s like I operate more in the men’s world. So, it’s not new to me. I’m used to it. I have been in the league with men and was once the best Referee of the Year.
“I appreciate the president for finding me worthy to do this job and bring a lot of reforms. He dared to follow the FIFA and CAF regulations which is a good omen and we can see that everything is moving in the right direction.”
In her message to aspiring female referees and administrators in football, she urged: “Believe in yourself and believe in what you do. So if they feel they want to play football, they want to be referees, whatever they are determined to do they should believe in themselves first and take the bold steps.”
Besides Irabor as chairman, Rabiu Umar is vice chairman of the Referees Committee, with Oba James Odeniran, Abraham Zakowi, Waziri Furo Gawe, C. C. Chukwujekwu and Bello Abubakar as members, and Sani Zubairu as secretary.