L-R: First Vice President, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Seyi Akinwunmi; Chairman, Sterling Bank, Asue Ighodalo; Edo State Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu; Governor Godwin Obaseki; Executive Director, Sterling Bank, Tunde Adeola; Interim Technical Adviser and Super Eagles Coach, Augustine Eguavoen, during the unveiling of the 2021/2022 season jersey for Bendel Insurance Football Club of Benin and Edo Queens Football Club, at the Government House, in Benin City, on Tuesday, February 8, 2022.

…Obaseki, Shaibu, Ighodalo, NFF VP, Coach Eguavoen line up to unveil new team’s jerseys



By Isaac Aimurie, Benin City


After decades of failed attempts by managers of Nigerian football teams to properly reorganise their management structure in order to attract private funding and guarantee sustainable growth of the teams, Bendel Insurance Football Club of Benin on Tuesday, February 8, 2022 broke the jinx and got a N50 million sponsorship deal from Sterling Bank Plc.


The deal has elevated the Edo Arsenal, as they are fondly called by their teeming fans across the country and beyond, to the elite status in football administration.

READ ALSO:Sweet, bitter day for Cameroon football


With the deal, Bendel Insurance FC will wear the Sterling Bank’s badge of honour on their jersey as they proudly trade tackles with their opponents in the days to come.


Announcing the deal at a well-attended jersey unveiling ceremony at the Edo State Government House, Benin City, Chairman of Sterling Bank Plc, Asue Ighodalo, said the N50 million sponsorship deal is in the bank’s best interest, as Edo State has continued to feature in developmental conversations across the country under the watch of Governor Godwin Obaseki, as the governor continues to reengineer governance with best practice across all sectors of the state.


Ighodalo, who is the Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), assured that Sterling Bank would continue to support Bendel Insurance and charged the team to guard their new status jealously and exceed the expectations of everyone that has kept faith with the team.


Group Sports Editor of LEADERSHIP Newspaper, Salifu Usman, who commented on the sponsorship deal, said: “It is the first bold and clear private sector sponsorship of a Nigerian team in several years.”


He noted that though some Nigerian teams and private companies have been bandying sponsorship deals about, but he maintained that “the terms are usually not as clear as the Sterling Bank deal with Bendel Insurance FC.”


Welcoming his guests, made up of the first vice president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Seyi Akinwunmi, Super Eagles handler, Coach Austin Eguavoen, sports journalist and President of Nigeria Women Football League, Aisha Falode, a delegation of Sterling Bank Plc, coaches, sports administrators and enthusiasts, members of the Bendel Insurance and Edo Queens football teams, sports writers and friends of Insurance FC, Governor Obaseki said:  “I am sure that with the performance of Bendel Insurance this season and that of Edo Queens, we will have our friends that will do the same thing as Sterling Bank is doing for Bendel Insurance.


“But as a government, we are very clear that our emphasis is on our people. We are lucky that sports is not on the exclusive list in this country, so we are not going to wait for anybody to develop sports or develop our sportsmen to become global sportsmen.
“We will continue to invest our hard-earned money in sports and will monitor that those investments yield the required results”.


In sports, Governor Obaseki has among other initiatives, reconstructed the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, home base of the Bendel Insurance FC, and the players are on the payroll of the state government, with the least paid player receiving not less than N150,000 monthly. The players also get air tickets to fly to far-flung destinations on away matches, among other incentives.


These investments will be sustained according to the Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu, who is an active member of Bendel Insurance FC, and under whose direct watch the team has witnessed unprecedented transformation.
On the urgent need for reforms in the management of football in Nigeria, Shaibu said: “I want to challenge our NFF to make our teams in Nigeria professional teams; sanction any club that does not follow your rules; that is the starting point.


“We can no longer win the champions league or the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) trophy, not because we don’t have the talent, but because of bad administration. I am challenging the NFF today. We have a governor who loves sports and is ready to assist.


“When we were sworn in, we promised to make sports our number one priority and return Edo to its number one sporting position in Nigeria. We started by rebuilding the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium and other sports facilities in the state.”


Also speaking, NFF first Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi, commended the Edo State government’s sustained investment in sports, and assured that the football regulatory body will look into the activities of the management of the Nigeria National League (NNL) to ensure that the right things are done.


Other speakers were the wife of the Edo State Governor, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki, and wife of the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Maryann Shaibu.


The climax of the event was the unveiling and launch of the new  jerseys of Bendel Insurance and Edo Queens football clubs.

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.