The development of grassroots football in Nigeria received a much needed support, last Saturday, in Ibadan, as 10 traditional rulers in Oyo state, launched a first ever football league.
The launch which held at the highbrow Ilaji Hotels and Sports Resort, Akanran, Ona- Ara local government area of the state was witnessed by a collection of football stakeholders, coaches, players, representatives of the royal fathers, as well as, the media.
The Ilaji football league aptly named after the fast growing tourism centre, is expected to feature 10 teams representing different towns including; Ibadan, Iseyin, Kishi, Ogbomosho, Ibarapa. Others include, Igboho, Saki, Igbeti, Iseyin and Ilaji.
Speaking at the ceremony to unveil the logo and fixtures, the League Director, Mrs. Remi Nike Olarinde, who spoke on behalf of the CEO of Ilaji Hotels and Sports Resort, and also the sponsor of the league, Engr. Dotun Sanusi, explained that the league which is for U21 players in the state is aimed at discovering raw, but talented young footballers that would go on to make the state and the country proud.
The league, according to Engr. Sanusi, is aimed at forstering love, peace and unity amongst the people of the state, as well as engaging the youths in sporting activities.
Olarinde charged the match officials to carry out their duties in line with the rules and regulations guiding the game. Adding that with forthrightness, diligence and discipline, the dreams for the competition would be achieved.
Consultant and facilitator of the Ilaji football league, Prince Dapo Ajibade, remarked that the sponsor of the football league, has lofty dreams for the youths of the state.
He disclosed that as part of the empowerment initiatives of the sponsor, he has acquired a football club in Europe to help the talented youths actualise their career dreams.
It was also disclosed that the participating teams were given a N1million grant each to prepare for the competition.