The Nigeria Football Federation 1st Vice President and Chairman of the federation’s Youth Football Committee, Seyi Akinwunmi, on Wednesday said that the future of Nigeria football would depend on youth competitions.
In a statement issued by the NFF Communication Department and signed by Ademola Olajire, Akinwunmi hailed the organisation of age-grade competitions.
Akinwumi said that the success recorded in the U-15 NFF/Zenith Bank Future Eagles Championships was remarkable.
He said: “The competition was an inspiration to all stakeholders. There are many lessons to be learnt from the competition.’’
Akinwunmi described as exciting, the U-15 NFF/Zenith Bank Future Eagles Championship played at the Agege Township Stadium in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that South East defeated North West 5-2 at the final of championship.
He said: “This is a competition that we all should be looking forward to as a template for grassroots football development in the country.
“There were so many talents on display on both sides. I am very happy at what I am seeing. We can safely say the future is here.
“I had no doubt when we started this programme that we were in for great things.
“In the next two years or thereabout, we will have no reason to go outside this competition to pick our U-17 National Team players.’’
He said that there was the need for players to improve in their education.
Akinwumi said: “Any player who is unable to do this will be dropped.
“Combining sports with education will give players upper hands and shape them better for future challenges.
“You can never compare the ball sense of a player, who is combining education with football career, with that of one who is unable to.
“Football is about catching them young, and this is what we are doing.’’
Akinwunmi noted that talented players abounded in Nigeria.
He said: “You only need look for them to get enough.
“We will not relent but use the programme to bring the best from all the zones.
“My joy is that the sponsors, Zenith bank, are also happy with this and have expressed immense joy at how this is turning out.’’
Akinwunmi said that the talents discovered during the competition would be monitored and guided for future use in the national teams.
He said: “With the raw talents that we have, all that is left is for us to find ways of exposing them, and we will work very hard at that.
“We will also ensure we bring the selected players to camp periodically to nurture their talents and add finesse to their game.’’
NAN reports that the most Valuable Player and Top Scorer of the competition is Divine Nwachukwu who scored a hat trick to steer the South East team to glory.
His goals came in the 32nd, 43rd and 53rd minutes.
Franklin Eneh had put South East ahead in the 21st minute, with Oluebube Oguduba sealing victory for them in the 75th minute.
Ibrahim Saifulahi netted both goals for equally impressive North West team in the 52nd and 60th minutes.
The South West won the trophy in the 2016 edition.
North Central had earlier emerged champion of the U-13 competition after defeating South West 4-2 on penalties, following a 0-0 draw played at the Sanni Abacha Stadium in Kano on Saturday.
Individual award was given to Jude Agada, Best Coach, (South-East); the Best Goalkeeper, Anthony Okoronkwo (South East); while Golden Boot Award was won by Divine Nwachukwu (South East).
He scored six goals in the competition.