Over 110,000 students to participate
By Patrick Omorodion
No fewer than 110,000 students from both private and public secondary schools across the country are expected to participate in the 13th edition of the annual All Nigeria Secondary School Football Championship tagged NNPC/Shell Cup for 2011.
President of the Nigeria School Sport Federation (NSSF), Mallam Ibrahim Mohammad, who disclosed this in Lagos Tuesday, said that registration for the competition which began December 2 will run through January 7, 2011.
In his speech delivered by the secretary of the NSSF, Mrs Olabisi Joseph, Mallam Mohammad said that State preliminaries will hold from January 10 to 18, 2011 while the State finals will hold on January 21 and 22, 2011. State champions will be group into nine zones for the zonal preliminaries which will hold in Ijebu-Ode, Oshogbo, Enugu, Owerri, Calabar, Kano, Lafia, Dutse and Bauchi.
Zonal champions, he said, will gather in four centres namely Ilorin, Kaduna as well as two unnamed centres in Delta and Ebonyi States for the quarter finals on February 12 and 13, 2011 while Lagos will be host for the semi finals and final coming up between February 24 and 27, 2011.
Stressing that the competition is a major event on the calendar of the NSSF, Mallam Mohammad enjoined “parents, principals, proprietors and proprietresses of schools to encourage their students to participate in this developmental programme”, by getting their schools registered.
The NSSF commended the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC for sponsoring the competition which helps in the development of the country’s youth and urged other members of the organised private sector to emulate the SPDC gesture and join in the crusade of the grass-root sports development.
In her address, Mrs Sola Abulu, Head, Major Projects, PR and Brand Communications of the SPDC, expressed the company’s joy that the competition has become the most anticipated and best organised football event at the secondary school level in the country.
“Through this competition, many young and talented footballers have been discovered, nurtured and gone on to represent the country in age-grade competitions (while) many professional clubs in Nigeria and abroad have used the platform of the NNPC/Shell Cup to pick talents for their teams”, Mrs Abulu stressed.
She disclosed that the SPDC is “working closely with the Nigeria Football Association to ensure that every stage of the competition is closely monitored and that good players are given the opportunity to demonstrate their skills.”
Chief Segun Odegbami who is SPDC’s consultant on the NNPC/Shell Cup project said that thorough screening will be carried out on the players to ensure that as many of them as possible are eligible to enter into the national U-17 team.