The record-breaking skipper who has participated in six FIFA Women’s World Cups was unveiled at a colourful ceremony on Saturday in Abuja by the management of Naija Ratels.
The fast-rising club gained promotion to the elite NWFL in 2021.
The 40-year-old experienced defender who captained the Super Falcons at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand said she was happy to return to the local league, after more than a decade abroad.
She said she specifically chose Naija Ratels, because it is the youngest side in the league, with great organisation and discipline, despite offers from local and foreign clubs after the World Cup.
Ebi said returning to the league was a fulfilment of a childhood desire to return to the NWFL to mentor young talents and support the growth of women’s football in Nigeria.
“People will ask me why I joined Naija Ratels, why did I come back to the league (NWFL).
“I didn’t just decide today to join them, I have had it in mind, my plans before getting to this stage are that I want to give back to Nigerian football.
“I left the league 10-11 years ago, but before leaving I saw the struggles in the league, so when I went abroad I saw how the foreign league is being organized and I said to myself before I retire I will definitely come back.
“Not only to give, not only to support but to play with the youngest team, I said I was not going to play for big teams, so these young ones can get the opportunity I didn’t have,” she said.
Earlier, President of Ratels Sports Development Foundation (RSDF), Paul Edeh, said the game-changing move was part of efforts to celebrate Nigerian football legends and change the narrative of the league.
“I am particularly happy today because what Onome brings to the table is not just playing football, but telling the right stories to our young children.
“We all know that all of these young players want to play for the Super Falcons, they want to play abroad, they want to play internationally, what better way to motivate them other than having someone in their fold who has seen it all,” he said.
Edeh who is also the chairman of the Benue State Football Association (BSFA) stressed the need for all hands to be on deck to support the NWFL and women’s football generally in the country.
He said the RSDF will take over the payment of Ebi’s salary from Naija Ratels and announced a mouth-watering N 1.5 million monthly salary for the Super Falcons captain, making her the highest-paid NWFL player.
He said the RSDF will continue to work with the management of NWFL and other stakeholders to develop the women’s game in the country.
The chairperson of NWFL, Nkechi Obi, who was also present at the star-studded unveiling said the signing of Ebi will add more glamour to the league, as the NWFL management seeks to take the league to a higher pedestal.
She said the NWFL recently unveiled the “Women’s Football Rising” as the platform to drive its growth strategy for 2023 and beyond.
Ebi last featured for Spanish side Levante Las Planas in 2022, the well-travelled player also played in Turkey, Sweden, Belarus, China, among other countries.