By Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The 15th edition of Youth Sports Federation (YSFON) Chief of Naval Staff football tournament kicked off yesterday at the Old parade Groud Abuja. The event will feature many states in the federation vying for honours in the boys U-14 and girls U-17 categories.
Sixteen states; Kogi, FCT, Kwara, Ondo, Oyo, Osun, Delta, Edo, Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue, Kaduna, Nigeria Navy Secondary School, Calabar, Bauchi and Ekiti will compete in the boys tournament, while four states, including Delta, Benue, FCT and Lagos will feature in the female event. The final will be played on April 23.
YSFON President, Nasir Yusuf Gawuna, expressed gratitude to the Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Ibok- Ete Ekwe Ibas for facilitating the return of the grassroots football tournament since the last edition was held in 2012.
Gawuna said no price money will be attached to the tournament as YSFON is using very minimum recourses to organise the tournament. He appealed to people with means to aid of the association.
He also revealed that teams would be screened to ensure that only players within the age limit will compete, while YSFON also boasts of the record of all the teams including the players’ pictures, declaration of age and record from their local government of origin which are documented.
According to him, the state from where the winning team emerges will be written by YSFON, which will in addition, encourage them to take the youths to many international competitions for further exposure.
He clamoured for corporate bodies to aid YSFON in financing its activities so that the federation, a Non Government Organisation (NGO) can develop programmes that can help in returning Nigeria to the glorious past when virtually all the country’s national youth players were products of the federation.
“It is imperative to pursue grassroots oriented programme if we aim to sustain Nigeria’s domination of youth football, which is the underlying philosophy behind the creation of YSFON. We are already in partnership with West Ham United for talent exposure, while we also held a coaching seminar in Abuja for talent hunt. We want to explore avenues for our teeming youths, Gawuna said.