Ayobo-Ipaja LCDA of Alimosho Local Government Council in Lagos State was perky on Thursday, Nigeria’s Independence Day, as Ipaja All-Stars Independent Cup 2020 Edition held in the community.
The impressive grassroots tournament saw Omolola FC slug it out with HMD FC in the final at Fela field, Ipaja.
The game ended two-all after regulations, with spectators treated to fascinating football.
Although Omolola FC prevailed 5–4 in the shoot-out to emerge the inaugural winners of the Ipaja All-Stars Independent Cup, HMD FC were praised for their assemblage which included the likes of promising forward, Chibuike Silas.
Grassroots football in Nigeria
Grassroots football is something which the football community continues to talk about and everyone is in agreement that it is an extremely important part of football in Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria.
Grassroots is not just about providing top-flight clubs with a steady flow of young talent – it has a purpose that is much more deeply rooted in Nigerian football.
Thousands of young adults and teens play football every week across the country, and the grassroots community is what allows them to do this.
It has become a cliché that sports ‘take children off the streets’, and affords them the opportunity to become what they want to be in life. Ipaja All-Stars Independent Cup, chiefly sponsored by Benzy Autos and Properties, thus provided numerous youngsters the chance to follow their passion and equally enjoy themselves.
It is noteworthy that Akinlosotu Daniel Kehinde, one of the players that partook in the Ipaja All-Stars Independent Cup has just been called up to the Nigeria junior squad – the Golden Eaglets.
“Harnessing the talent is part of grassroots development,” Hakeem Busari, Coach of Gateway United FC said.
“When we were young. In the 70s and the 80s, we have a lot of clubs being sponsored under the grassroots.
“We earn peanuts. Like two Naira; three Naira. Some of us gain admission from the schools as well.
“Because by the time you play good football, a lot of universities want you to come and play for them.”
Busari added: “All players must have a contract. And all players must go to school, for you not to sign a slave contract, you must be educated.”
“If you want the players to grow, we need quality [football] education,” Remo Stars Technical Director, Daniel Ogunmodede said.
Omolola FC Coordinator speaks on gains of the tournament
“We’ve had four players signed to the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL),” Oluboluke Omolola, the Coordinator Omolola FC (now Sleek Football Club) revealed.
“Within the coming weeks, we’ll finalise the deal soon.
“I think the competition has done great for them. And for us too.”