Paul Osuyi, Asaba
First vice president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Mr. Amaju Pinnick, on Wednesday, said the football body will soon send delegates to check the newly completed Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba and certify it for international soccer competitions.
Pinnick who is the chairman of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), stated this at the Government House, Asaba where he led members of the national football body to pay a courtesy call on Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.
He commended the governor for completing the stadium and hosting the on going Africa Senior Athletics Championship, stating that nobody ever thought that the “stadium will see the light of the day. I can boldly say, it is the godliness in you (Okowa) that made you to complete this stadium.
“The stadium will endure long after you have left office. It will be an everlasting legacy of your administration. I want to assure you that CAF will come to check and certify the stadium for international competitions and with the support of my executive committee, it will be possible.”
Receiving his guests, Okowa advocated strong synergy between NFF and the private sector to boost the development of the game from the grassroots level.
According to the governor, “We believe that we have to develop football right from the beginning so that talents will not be wasted and, I urge the NFF to develop a synergy with the private sector to encourage the discovery of local talents and sponsor football activities from the local to international levels.”
While urging members of NFF and sports loving Nigerians to “support Mr. Pinnick to help Nigeria progress in sports,” Governor Okowa disclosed that his administration in partnership with the private sector has encouraged the development of sports in the state by resuscitation the Principals’ Cup and of recent, Headmaster’ Cup football tournaments for secondary and primary schools in the state.
He thanked the NFF for coming to witness the 21st African Senior Athletics Championship (ASAC) tagged Asaba 2018, noting that while most countries were given period of time to prepare for such championships, Delta State had only one year to reconstruct the Stephen Keshi Stadium, put necessary facilities in place and organise the event.
The governor commended the local organising committee for the championship for the successes recorded so far, disclosing that those athletes who were stranded at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos were as a result of increase in number of participating countries for the championship.
“All the athletes as at this morning (yesterday) have been airlifted to Asaba. Initially, 46 countries enlisted to participate in the game, but, few days ago the number of countries increased to 52, we are excited that 52 countries are participating, we are a sports loving state and will be excited to host more world tournaments,” the governor said.