…Says Ondo Football Academy to commence soon
By Dapo Akinrefon
GOVERNOR Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, Tuesday, urged the Nigerian American Football Association, NAFA, and Lagos Marine American Football Club to consider visiting his state to explore youthful talents that are in abundance therein, promising to partner the organisations to use sports to grow wealth and promote peace in Nigeria.
Akeredolu, who is Chairman, South West Governors Forum, also declared that his administration will soon build a world class football academy to train, grow and expose youths in Ondo State to the international clubs, stating that sport is a goldmine that his administration and Governors in Western Nigeria plan to use to wage war against the surge of youth unemployment currently ravaging the country.
Speaking at the maiden edition of American Flagship Football exhibition game held at National Stadium, Surelere, in Lagos, Akeredolu vowed to use his connections across the length and breadth of Nigeria to revolutionise the growth of American Flagship Football Game in the country.
Represented by the state Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, Mr. Mr. Dotun Owanikin, Akeredolu said: “The National Sports Festival which is our home-grown Olympics tagged EDO 2020. It is therefore probable to conclude that if one of the objectives of the exhibition game is to feature many of the players who would form the bulk of the team to represent Nigeria in international football games, we have to applaud your organizations for thus significant contributions to sports development in this country.
“Sporting competition provides good answers for our youths to engage in healthy and lasting relationships, with sound minds in healthy bodies. Athletes are trained to be disciplined to be honest and inculcate cooperative attitude towards others. Therefore, I urge all the youths participating in this exhibition to openly leverage on this opportunity to engage themselves and improve their skills in order to add value to themselves and thereby take Nigeria to an enviable height among the comity of football nations.”
On the importance of sports to national unity and economic advancement, Akeredolu said: “Sports in general seems to be the only issue that can draw out patriotism from average Nigerians because sports still appear to be the only soothing balm that brings them happiness in the face of apathy and prevailing general gloom arising from the economic realities of these times.
“It is equally noteworthy that your organizations do not only set out to unite all American Football Houses in Nigeria but to create opportunities for the youth in this country. These opportunities will no doubt propel these youth to actualize their potentials to be financially independent, to be able to explore the world, to win laurels for their country, and thereby in most cases enable them to give back to the community and their country when wealth attends their exploration in sports.”
On the commitment of Ondo State towards sports development, Akeredolu said “our government holds distinction of establishing a football Agency which is almost autonomous in operation and currently parades three teams in the National Professional League, NPFL. I also want to use this historical occasion to announce that a world class Football Academy would soon be built and become operational this year. By the grace of God and your support, this academy would provide a window and accommodate skilful talents all over the state where they would be trained, guided and nurtured to combine academic with football with objective of catching them young.”
In his remarks, the founder and Chairman of NAFA, Mr. Babajide Akeredolu said the purpose of the exhibition game was to create awareness on the existence and importance of the American Flagship Football game in Nigeria so that Nigerians especially the younger generation could have an ample of opportunities to exhibit their talents, get exposed to the world and become great in life.
He said: “People focus more on football round-leather game in Nigeria but we want to offer Nigerians and investors to a new dimension. Flagship football is an alternative to Round-leather Football and Rugby. It is very exciting. It is the most lucrative game in United States of America after Basket Ball. It is also good for health.
“By the grace of God and the support of Nigerians, we are starting a league in March. Aside the two teams of Lagos Marine, some teams based in the South-South, East and North have registered. We will hit Nigeria by storm and the youth shall be great for it.”