Thirty-eight teams will slug it out in the maiden President Muhammadu Buhari’s Nyanya-Keffi U-23 football tournament scheduled to hold between Nov. 4 and Dec. 9, in Nasarawa.
The tournament will be played in a World Cup format at the football pitch of the Buratai Farm along the Abuja-Keffi expressway, Nasarawa.
Organiser of the tournament and proprietor of Bimo Sporting Club (BSC), Chinedu Okoye, said the competition was being organised to popularise President Buhari among the youth and people of Nyanya-Keffi axis of Nasarawa State.
Okoye said the tournament would be used to honour Buhari for the achievements recorded in football during his time as Military Head of State and now a Civilian President.
“When he was the Military Head of State, Nigeria won the first World U-17 trophy in China captained by Nduka Ugbade and he came as Civilian President in 2015 and the team won another U-17 trophy.
“And since President Buhari came on the saddle, all the issue of the national team players grumbling over unpaid bonuses and allowances and very scattered flight schedule for their tournaments are over and players given their due.
“So, it is in recognition of that fact as a football stakeholder that Okoye decided to dedicate his first tournament to the President; it has nothing to do with politics, it is about acknowledging the man that means well for our football.
“Other aims of this tournament is to mobilise the youth of Nyanya-Keffi communities towards nation building and also as an agent of building national cohesion and unity.
“To discover the talented U-23 footballers in the affected area and expose them to bigger football careers.
“We also want to use the tournament to popularise football among youths and people of the mentioned area,” Okoye said.
Team Manager of Bimo FC, Iyke Igbokwe, said the competition was being organised in fulfillment of the promises made by the proprietor of the club Chinedu Okoye, when he contested for the presidency of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) in September.
Igbokwe said Okoye had promised to grow age group competitions for youths across the country.
“We are starting from Nyanya to Akwanga area where Bimo Sporting Club is based and we are starting first with U-23.
“We had initially wanted to start with U-20 but we discovered that there are no such age-grade teams here.
“So, we believe that by the next edition of the tournament there will be awareness and then, it will be strictly U-20 to enable us discover the players early.
“We have just finished the draws and youths are eager to play but that their problem is that there are no competitions to play in and we have 38 teams already registered.
“The talents that will be discovered will be given a playing tour of Switzerland where the talented ones will pick up careers from the Swiss League, which is one of the objectives since Bimo has its root in Switzerland,” Igbokwe said.
According to Igbokwe, the other aim of the competition is to motivate and encourage youngsters who see their mates ply football trade in Europe to make use of their talent for the good of the nation.
He said the organiser had set aside N2.5 million for the competition from which N200,000 would go to the winning team, while the first runners-up would pocket N100,000 and second runners-up go home with N80,000.
“We have prizes for the Most Valuable Player, Highest Goal Scorer, Best Goalkeeper and the Best Coach.”