Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti
Not less than 2,000 indigent kids benefitted from free healthcare services and soccer competitions held in some rural communities of Ekiti State at different times. The communities included Osi-Ekii, Iropora-Ekiti, Awo-Ekiti, Igbole-Ekiti and Ido-Ekiti all in Ido-Osi Local Government.
The gesture came in form of diagnosis, treatment and provision of appropriate drugs as well as training in soccer for the beneficiaries. The training lasted for months before a two-day football competition at Osi Community School, Osi-Ekiti, hometown of Mr and Mrs Sunday Olayinka, sponsors of the programme, based in the United States of America (USA). It was sponsored through the couple’s Mercy International Mission (MIM).
One hundred and four 124 kids who participated in the soccer contests received free soccer jersey, boots, bag packs, balls, and socks among others at the end of the whole exercise. This was just as some outstanding kids who showed rare soccer talents, both male and female, were handsomely rewarded with some of them getting scholarship for professional soccer training at the Sports Academy while all got decorated with soccer medals.
The Olayinkas didn’t stop at that, they provided scholarships for some of the pupils, students and undergraduates and gave special awards to soccer teams that emerged first, second and third in the contests.
Captains of the teams expressed gratitude to the Olayinkas, calling on government and other well-meaning Nigerians to emulate the couple. They confessed that MIM inspired an ambition to pursue soccer careers and become stars like Jay Jay Okocha. Oguntuase Ayomide, 12, is captain of Lion Gate team that took first position. He said:
“I am in J.S 2 in Osi Community. This programme is very interesting. I am really impressed. I appreciate the NGO for their moral and financial support to make us show our talent and develop it. I am sure that with the training I have received I will be a soccer star in the future.”
Osegbemiro Seun, 12, the captain of the team, which first position in the female category said: “l am in J.S 2, of Ido Community High School. This programme has further deepened my interest in soccer. I thank God about the event and I appreciate MIM. God bless them.”
Ajayi Gbolahan, a JS 2 pupil of the Kings Pet School, Ido-Ekiti, said: “The soccer contest is very good, lively and entertaining. I am happy at the way the NGO is promoting us in the rural communities. MIM should keep up the good work. This event has encouraged me to continue in sporting activities. I also appreciate the fact that the NGO also gave us free healthcare services.”
Tayo Ojimokun, who trained the team that got second best position in the male category, emerged the Most Outstanding Coach: “We really thank God for MlM. I want to beg the organisation to kindly continue to train these kids, they can create a club for them. We can take them to an international level. The kids, though from rural areas, are greatly gifted. This programme has brought happiness to them. This programme has inspired me to get more involved in sports.”
Administrative head of the mission, Mr Olaposi Olayinka, said: “MIM provides basic healthcare not only for people and environs, organise soccer tournament for Ido and Iropora, we also provide free medical care for kids. We also look after their welfare. We use sports as a means of looking out for the kids to look after their wellbeing
“The purpose for having the soccer is to show that we care for the kids and bring the together. We also give scholarship to bright students in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. We want to advise our government that the kids are tomorrow’s glory and government should develop their talents and sponsor them. We spent millions to sponsor the programme
“By the special grace of God we will go a step further to sponsor the best players by taking them to football Academy to develop their skills.”