A young Nigerian footballer whose name was given as Emmanuel Jumbo on Tuesday morning collapsed inside FIFA goal project pitch and died on the way to hospital.
The pitch is located within package B of Moshood Abiola National stadium Abuja, same vicinity where the headquarters of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is currently located. Specifically, it’s situated about 50 metres away from the country’s football house.
The late player who was part of a club, Greenlight FC from Portharcourt, Rivers state capital, Blueprint gathered, was taking part in a football scouting programme organised by a popular football agent Babawo Mohammed.
In football, scouting programme is usually organised for the purpose of fishing out young talents who will be then exposed to possibly attain stardom in their career.
An eyewitness told Blueprint that as at the time the player slumped, no single medical equipment was available for use to resursite him before rushing him to a nearby medical facility.
“The player was among those inside the pitch playing before he slumped. Everybody within was shocked immediately the incident happened. But to our greatest surprise, no single medical personnel was available to attend to him before he was rushed to the hospital. Eventually he died on the way,” One of the officials told Blueprint in confidence.
Further investigation revealed that the organisers of the programme hurriedly secured approval to use the pitch “verbally” few days ago as against the procedural way of getting official approval.
“NFF had earlier given an official approval to a football club known since February 2022 to use the pitch starting from Monday June 6 to Thursday June 9, but we don’t know how a football had his way and hurriedly secured approval just last week to use same pitch within same days,” one of the coaches on ground told Blueprint correspondent who later came around.
The main organiser of the programme, Babawo, couldn’t respond to calls and text message put across to him.
Blueprint learnt that upon hearing about the incident, NFF reportedly ordered any other football activity on the pitch to be suspended.
However, effort to speak with the technical director of NFF, coach Austin Eguavoen, whose department is saddled with the responsibility of interfacing with players and officials on any technical issue wasn’t successful as he engaged in a meeting as at the time of filling this report.
Blueprint then, spoke to the General Secretary of NFF, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, who denied knowledge of the incident.