Heartlands Queens footballers prevent Rochas from entering Government House over salary arrears

PLAYERS from the Imo State female football team Heartland Queens blocked the road and prevented Governor Rochas Okorocha from entering Government House in Owerri yesterday in protest over their unpaid salaries.


Like many professional clubsides in Nigeria, Heartland Queens are owed a backlog of salary arrears as state governments who own a majority of the sides are struggling to make ends meet. Yesterday, the Heartlands team of placard-carrying protesters, claimed that the state government had not paid them for  seven months.


Chanting anti-government slogans, the players also said they had not been paid their match allowances and win bonuses for months. Governor Okorocha, who drove himself to the Government House, was forced  to alight from his car to address the footballers.


Their placards read,  “We are the breadwinners of our families; We are suffering; Government of Imo State, pay us our seven months’ salaries; Our dear governor, please listen to your children.”


After listening to the complaints of the players, Governor Okorocha, who assured them that their demands would be met, assigned one of his aides, Edna Njoku, to discuss with  the protesters and  give him the feedback. After the audience with them, the  governor then drove into Government House.


Best Osuji, the Heartland Queens captain, said that they were also not happy with their team  manager, Charity Enwerem because she  refused to draw  the state government’s  attention to their plight. According to the midfielder, since they helped the team  qualify for  the  elite league, they had been abandoned by the  club’s management and the state government.


Ms Osuji  said: “Since we won the amateur league  playoffs and qualified for the  Nigerian  the top flight, the state government has abandoned us. We don’t have a camp and they have  kept us in the stadium without any care.


“We go to matches late and we play on  empty stomachs,  yet they want us to produce good results.” Heartland Queens are scheduled to play FC Robo in Lagos on Wednesday  but Ms Osuji expressed her  doubt whether  they  would make the trip due to a lack of  money.