By Femi Atolagbe
In a bid to eradicate violence among youths in Ondo State, government and private sectors have been urged to promote and develop grassroot football in the state.
This advice was given by the President, Ijapo All Star Football Club, Barrister Gbenga Akinmoyo, during the grand finale of the football competition organised among its members .
Akinmoyo opined that the rationale behind the tournament is primarily to take youths and their fans away from anti-social behaviour the state had been experiencing recently.
“The state capital have been in the news for negative reasons from cults related activities, if the well to do in the society and private organisation can encourage grassroot football, it will go a long way to take away not only the players, but their fans from being idle and it will motivate them to engage in something productive and rewarding”, he said.
The competition was held at Housing Corporation field at Ijapo Estate in Akure.
The tournament which lasted for four weeks was grouped into four groups of Anderlecht FC, Brugge, Chievo and Dijon FC.
Team Anderlecht and Dijon were the two teams which qualified for the final of the tournament where team Anderlecht won the final by defeating Dijon with a lone goal scored by Akogun Ayokunle.
The winning team went home with medals and cash prize, that the tournament will be a quarterly affair. We are reaching out to other interested youths to be part of us,” Akinmoyo stressed.
Vice president of the club, Mr Akin Adebayo encouraged the players and the entire team to improve on the success achieved so far.
He appreciated the Housing Corporation for allowing the club to make use of the pitch to bring the best out of the players.
A guest, Barr. Remigius Akinbinu who donated cash prize to the winner and the runner-up appreciated the Management Committee of the club for the beautiful initiative of reviving the lost glory of grassroots football.
“The economic situation in the country is not that friendly, but our politicians and private organisations in whatever little way should always assist in this kind of developmental idea, the players should not relent on their oars”, he advised.
The team manager of the club, Mr. Atolagbe Oluwafemi said grassroots football remains the best avenue to catch talented youths in the country as there are a lot of sunshine materials in the team.
He called on the management of Ondo State Football Agency to look inward, and scout for players at local level, saying many former Nigeria players were discovered on the streets in those days when Nigeria team was very strong.