The annual Ajanah Inter-Local Government Basketball Tournament in Kogi ended in grand on Saturday with Team Okene Local Government Area (LGA) defeating Team Okehi (LGA) to win the main trophy.
Okene beat Okehi 69-65 points in a keenly contested final match, played at the Okene Club in Okene.
Earlier, the third-place match which was between Adavi and Kogi LGAs was won by the Adavi side which won 59-55.
Okene, Okehi and Adavi received cash prizes of N200,000, N150,000 and N100, 000 respectively, as well as trophies.
Trophies were also given to players and teams for various awards, such as Fair Play, Most Improved Team, Best Rebounder and Highest Scorer.
David Edward of Team Okene, who won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) and emerged the tournament’s 3-point shooting champion, later said that he felt great about the two awards.
“It is God that has done it for me,’’ he said.
An ex-international basketballer, Olumide Oyedeji, who is a consultant to the event, said the initiative was a great one putting smiles on the faces of the young ones.
“It is helping to take them off the streets,’’ the former captain of the D’Tigers said.
Oyedeji, who is a member of the Tijani Umar-led faction of Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) board, disclosed that through the tournament many players have represented Nigeria outside the country.
He added that some of the exposed players were representing the country in national and international leagues.
“It is a good initiative, taking the youths off the streets and sowing something into their lives. So far so good, everything has been well and it can only get better and bigger than what it is right now,” Oyedeji said.
Justice Jimoh Usman, the Chairman of the Organising Committee (LOC), stated that the tournament has contributed immensely to the development of the youths in Kogi and Nigeria at large.
“We don’t just say youths are the leaders of tomorrow. Individuals must contribute to making the youth a leader of tomorrow. That is what the tournament is all about.
“The basketball event is organised annually among the 21 LGAs of Kogi State, but this year only 12 LGAs were able to organise themselves to participate in the event.
“Each LGA has 12 players and three officials each, totalling 15 delegates each. We also have up to 40 officials, which include International Referees from Lagos, Ibadan, Ilorin, across Nigeria and abroad.
“All these are meant to get them engaged during the festive reason. Besides, many scouts are here to watch the players, to see which ones they will pick among them,” Usman said.
Ajibarede Bello, the tournament’s Technical Coordinator, said shortly after the event, that the 10th edition of the tournament has attracted youths from all over the country.
He said this was in a show of love and solidarity with youths in Kogi.
According to Bello, the aim of the tournament was to keep the youths active during the festive period, build cordial relationships among them and maintain good friendship.
“It also gives the players the opportunity to play a spectacular basketball.
“Justice Nasir Ajanah, the Chief Judge of Kogi, has been sponsoring this competition for the past 10 years. He has been putting in so much to see to the success of this programme.
“We also have many partners who have been giving us logistics support. We thank God for the success of the programme,” Bello said.
The tournament which lasted for five days began on Tuesday and ended on Saturday.