Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, Chairman, Western Nigeria Governors Forum has urged the Nigerian American Football Association (NAFA) and Lagos Marine American Football Club to consider visiting his state to explore youthful talents that are in abundance therein, promising to partner the organisations to use sports to grow wealth and promote peace in Nigeria.
The governor declared that his administration will soon build a world- class football academy to train, grow and expose youths in Ondo State to play with international clubs, stating that sport is a goldmine that his administration and governors in western Nigeria plan to use to wage war against the surge of youth unemployment currently ravaging the country.
Speaking at the maiden edition of American Flagship Football exhibition game held at National Stadium, Surelere, Lagos, Akeredolu vowed to use his contacts to revolutionise the growth of American Flagship Football Game in the country.
Represented by the state Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, Bar Dotun Owanikin, Akeredolu said “the National Sports Festival which is our home-grown Olympics tagged Edo 2020. It is therefore probable to conclude that if one of the objectives of the exhibition game is to feature many of the players who would form the bulk of the team to represent Nigeria in international football games, we have to applaud your organisations for this significant contribution to sports development in this country.
“Sporting competition provides good answers for our youths to engage in healthy and lasting relationships, with sound minds in healthy bodies. Athletes are trained to be disciplined to be honest and inculcate cooperative attitude towards others. Therefore, I urge all the youths participating in this exhibition to openly leverage on this opportunity to engage themselves and improve their skills in order to add value to themselves and thereby take Nigeria to an enviable height among the comity of football nations.”
On the importance of sports to national unity and economic advancement, Akeredolu posited that “sports, in general, seems to be the only issue that can draw out patriotism from the average Nigerians because it still appears to be the only soothing balm that brings us happiness in the face of apathy and prevailing general gloom arising from the economic realities of these times.”
In his remarks, the founder and Chairman of NAFA, Mr. Babajide Akeredolu said the purpose of the exhibition game was to create awareness on the existence and importance of the American Flagship Football game in Nigeria so that Nigerians especially the younger generation could have ample opportunities to exhibit their talents, get exposed to the world and become great in life.
“People focus more on football game in Nigeria but we want to offer Nigerians and investors to a new dimension.
“Flagship football is an alternative to round-leather football and rugby. It is very exciting. It is the most lucrative game in the United States after basketball. It is also good for health.
“By the grace of God and the support of Nigerians, we are starting a league in March. Aside from the two teams of Lagos Marine, some teams based in the South-South, East, and North have registered. We will hit Nigeria by storm and the youths shall be great for it.”
The exhibition game was played between Lagos Marine Islanders and Lagos Marine Mainlanders. The Mainlanders scored 28 points while the Islanders scored 6 points.