The Minister of Youth and Sports Development Mr. Sunday Dare, who is also the initiator and sponsor of the Oyo Unity Cup, has said there can be no meaningful progress in football if the grassroot is neglected.
Speaking to newsmen at the launch of the Oyo Unity Cup at the Soun Stadium Ogbomosho on Saturday, the Minister said the idea behind the competition is to discover new talents who would go on to the international scene and make a name for themselves and the country.
“Footballers who have gone on to international stardom, were discovered through such competitions like the Unity Cup we are having and we think that we need to go back to where we started from. The grassroot. whether in football, swimming or boxing and I think this is significant.
“What is happening here today signposts the future of development of sports and particularly football absolutely in our country,” the Minister added.
Mr. Dare also emphasized the importance of football as a uniting factor in Nigeria. “When you look around the stadium today, we have people from the various political parties we have in the country, we have people of different religions and they’re all excited about one thing, the game of football.”
On plans to replicate the competition in other States of the Federation, the Minister said, “What we are doing here today, I’ll try to reach out to other States and try to find individuals who can step up and start a Unity Cup in Kwara State, a Unity Cup for Kebbi State,a Unity Cup for Kaduna State. Imagine Unity Cups played in every State with these young ones ages 15 to 21, we would have started a revolution in our football development and also in our sports development”.
Notable dignitaries at the launch of the Oyo Unity Cup include Ex Internationals Daniel Amokachi, Taribo West and Joseph Yobo, Patrick Pascal and Others are Aisha Falode chairperson of the Nigeria Professional Women League, Dr. Amos Adamu, former NFF President and CAF Executive board member, Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau, an NFF board member, F A chairmen of Ogun and Oyo States respectively.
The Oyo Unity Cup with participating teams drawn from 14 Federal Constituencies in the State, will produce 4 winners who will go home with cash prizes.