Lawmaker Bankrolls U-21 Football Tourney in Lagos
In an effort to develop youths in Lagos State, a member of the state House of Assembly, Mr Adedamola Kasunmu, on Saturday unveiled the ARK Football Competition (ARK Cup) in Lagos.
Kasunmu, who is the sponsor of the competition, represents Ikeja Constituency 11 in the Assembly. He is popularly known as ARK.
A total of 32 teams drawn from different local governments in Lagos State will participate in the maiden edition of the competition to start in March.
Kasunmu, the Chairman, House Committee on Sports, Youth and Social Development at the Assembly, told newsmen at the unveiling ceremony that sports remains a solution to youth restiveness.
“The tournament, which is strategically structured to showcase players within the age range of 21 and below, is targeted at discovering, inspiring, promoting and empowering untapped soccer talents across the state.
“The opening ceremony/ opening game will take place on March 14 while other games in the group stages will be played between this date and March 28.
“The grand finale/closing ceremony will come up on March 29, which happens to be my birthday. Most of the games will be played at the Rehabilitation and Vocational Training Centre (RVTC) Mini Stadium, Isheri, Ojodu Berger,’’ he told journalists.
The sponsor said that cash prizes and other gifts would be won by the overall winner and first and second runners -up.
“It is my hope that through this competition, some Lionel Messis, Christiano Ronaldos, J.J. Okochas, Nwankwo Kanus, Dosu Josephs etc will be discovered from Lagos State in the nearest future,” he added.
The lawmaker, who noted that the event would be annual, said the tournament, being coordinated by Nigeria’s ex-international goalkeeper, Dosu Joseph, attracted youth football clubs across council areas.
Kasunmu called on corporate organisations, multinationals and philanthropists to give attention to sports development as a strategy to engage the youth positively.
“This will not only raise the standard of the game in our local leagues, it will indeed go a long way in boosting our local economy and empowering our youths,” Kasunmu said.
According to him, challenges faced by the youth across the state especially in the area of sports and social development necessitated initiation of two bills on Lagos State Sports Commission and Lagos State Sports Trust Fund in 2016.
In his remarks, Joseph, said: ” I am sure we will all witness a performance of highest quality in this completion.
“The purpose of this competition is to develop football at the grassroots and identify talents to give opportunities of a career in football.
Dr Kweku Tandoh, Chairman, Lagos State Sports Commission, urged other lawmakers to assist the commission to take sports to the grassroots for the development of the society.
Tandoh, however, urged young talents to ensure they also embraced education as they pursued careers in sports.
Seyi Akinwunmi, the Chairman, Lagos State Football Association, said that football would develop with sponsorship from spirited individuals and organisations.
Akinwunmi said that the state government would soon unveil football leagues, adding that football associations across six South-West states were also working on having a regional football league.
Debo Osundun, the Chairman, Lagos State Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), who lauded Kasunmu, said that the association would continue to provide media coverage to promote grassroots football.(NAN)