The 31st edition of the Nigeria Football Federation/Central Bank of Nigeria All-Financial Institutions Football Competition gets underway on Saturday with group stage matches at four centres.
The annual competition, which is billed to end on October 28 at the Lafia Township Stadium, Nasarawa State, will have the participating teams grouped in the four centres of Akure, Bauchi, Calabar and Owerri.
Qualifiers from these preliminary round matches will advance to the four quarter-final matches slated for the four venues, while the two semi-final matches will come up at Lokoja.
First-place winners in the competition will receive N2 million, while the runners-up will take home N1.5 million.
The third-place winners will earn N1 million, while the fourth-placed team will be rewarded with a prize money of N500,000.
At a press briefing on Wednesday in Abuja to herald the competition, the sponsors, Central Bank of Nigeria, pledged its continued commitment to the competition’s sponsorship.
Martins Ogwuda, who represented CBN’s Acting Director of Corporate Communications, Isaac Okoroafor, said: “We are committed to making positive contributions towards the promotion and development of the football sport by sponsoring this competition annually, because of the successes recorded so far.
“This is because it has become a major event which features annually on the calendar of events of the Nigeria Football Federation.
“As a result of this, many teams from Deposit Money Banks, Micro Finance Banks, financial regulatory agencies and other financial institutions have been indicating their interest in participating.”
He added that CBN had noted in recent editions an increase in the number of MFBs participating in the competition.
Ogwuda said: “This is an indication that the impact of this competition is being felt at the grassroots level where budding talents are often discovered and nurtured to a level of national and international recognition.
“In fact, Balogun Fulani MFB from Ilorin, which won the championship for the first time last year, is an example.
“The team has created a record as the first Micro Finance Bank to win the competition since its inception 30 years ago.”
The NFF Deputy General Secretary, Emmanuel Ikpeme, who stood in for the General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, praised the CBN for its commitment and for keeping faith with the competition for the past 30 years.
Ikpeme then promised that the Federation would always provide the best hands to ensure a flawless organisation of the competition.