President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau, has praised the Bayelsa State governor, Senator Douye Diri, for his outstanding contributions to the growth of grassroots football in Nigeria.
The NFF boss urged other Nigerian leaders to emulate the Bayelsa governor in developing football and other sports in general.
The chief press secretary to governor, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, in a statement on Monday, quoted Gusau as stating this when he led a delegation of the federation on a courtesy visit shortly after witnessing the finals of the Bayelsa Governor’s Prosperity Cup competition held at the Samson Siasia Sports Complex in Yenagoa, on Sunday.
He said it was first of its kind to have 214 teams and more than 5,000 players participate in one football tournament, adding that the NFF had no choice but to grace the grand finale.
While assuring the state government of the federation’s partnership in subsequent editions, Gusau described sports as a business venture in which huge investments must not go in vain.
The NFF president alongside chairman of the Nigerian National League (NNL), Mr. George Aluo, presented an award to Governor Diri for promoting grassroots football in the state.
He said: “We believe there was need to come and thank you for what you have been doing for football, especially at the grassroots level. That was why we decided to celebrate with you in this important finals.
“It is the first of its kind in the country and we want to use this opportunity to call on other governors to see how they can key into this kind of programme. With 214 football teams in this tournament, you know it is no mean feat.
“The only thing we can do to support you is to be part of this. It is to ensure that the young stars discovered, we will use our good offices to showcase them to the world.
“Football is no more a leisure. It is about business, and we must see how to support you in that direction.“
Responding, Governor Diri thanked the NFF President and his delegation for coming to give credence to the Prosperity Cup, which, according to him, was indication of a new partnership in football development.
The governor commended the local organizing committee for delivering an excellent tournament.
He said his administration would build on the achievements of the competition to create 10 Grassroots Talent Identification and Development Centres across the state.
He restated his call on the corporate community to key into the initiative, adding that they could have the centres named after them and become indelibly linked to the prosperity and evolution of the talented youths.
Crusaders Feeders of Peretorugbene community in Ekeremor Local Government Area defeated De Grace FC of Yenagoa 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw at full time.
The winners got the N5m star prize and a trophy while the runners up went home with N2.5 million and a trophy. Agbere Community of Sagbama grabbed the bronze, like it did last year, as well as a cash prize of N1.5m and a trophy.