It was another exciting and fulfilling day at the Campos Memorial Mini-Stadium on Thursday as the third edition of the Seyi Akinwunmi Charity Mini-Tournament drew political heavyweights, leaders in football administration, top –flight professionals, ex –international players, referees, coaches, well-wishers, family and friends to the arena.
A couple of months after the present NFF administration (of which he is 1st Vice President) came into office, friends and associates wanted to host the experienced administrator and legal luminary to a birthday bash. He humbly declined, opting instead for a charity event where people could donate to a worthy cause of helping intelligent but indigent children.
Conceived as a special project to give back to the society, the Seyi Akinwunmi Charity Mini- Tournament is the eponymous charity event organized by the Seyi Akinwunmi Charity Foundation.
Its objectives include rehabilitation of ailing ex-international footballers. Embedded therein also is a Courage Education Foundation (CEF) – a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the empowerment of the Nigerian child through the provision of quality education available to all Nigerian children irrespective of sex, faith or ethnicity, as well as Consolidation of The Future Stars Project – a grassroots football development program targeted at kids (mainly under 13 years of age) and hinged on the binary factors of sporting and academic excellence.
Last year’s crowd included the Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, NFF President Amaju Pinnick, NFF 2nd Vice President/LMC Chairman Shehu Dikko and the Seriki of Egbaland, Oba Tosin Fadare.
On Thursday, former FIFA and CAF Executive Committee member, Dr. Amos Adamu, former NFF General Secretary and later Chairman of Technical Committee Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi, former NFF General Secretary Fanny Ikhayere Amun, NFF Board Members Otunba Sunday Dele-Ajayi and Chris Green and Chairman of the Lagos State Sports Commission, Hon. Deji Tinubu were among the dignitaries.
There were also FA Chairmen Ganiyu Majekodunmi and James Odeniran, NRA President Tade Azeez, Mr. Adewunmi Ogunsanya (Director General, Lagos State Sports Commission), highly successful professionals Yomi Badejo-Okusanya and Foluso Philips, Dr. Rafiu Oladipo (President-General, Nigeria Football Supporters Club), Dr. Kweku Tandoh (former Lagos State Director of Sports), Dr. Isaac Ayodele (former Ekiti FA chairman), Mr. Rasheed Balogun (GM, Shooting Stars), Reverend Samuel Ikpea (Chairman, Nigeria Football Supporters Club), Dr. Akin George (Lagos State Sports Commission), Barr. Agbolade Dokunmu (President, All-Stars Abuja), Mr. Moroof Oluwa (SG, NRA) and Board Members of the Lagos State FA).
The cast of ex –internationals was led by former Super Eagles’ goalkeeper and captain Peter Rufai and included Gbenga Okunowo, Godwin Okpara, Teslim Fatusi, Segun Fetuga, Olumide Harris and Mba Agbai (Green also featured here). Harris scored a hat – trick in the All-Stars’ 5-2 defeat of Seyi Akinwunmi and Friends (captained by Deji Tinubu and including Ogunjobi), with Rufai also on the scoresheet.
A number of youth teams from the Eko Football Project factory entertained the crowd before the All-Stars and Seyi Akinwunmi and Friends. The final match, between Lagos State FA United Veterans and Ikorodu United Veterans, ended 1-0 in favour of the former.
At the end, Akinwunmi, who also celebrated his 54th birthday same day, told thenff.com: “For me, there is no better way to celebrate a birthday. I love children so much and I am happy being able to offer some assistance to a number of them through this project.
“The truth is that those who have the means to go to school easily and do a lot of other things are only privileged; they have the grace of God and it is not by their making. If you see yourself as being privileged, and that it is not by your power that you are where you are but by the mercy of God, you would want to give back to the society.
“Believe me, if you that is in a position to provide support to these children fails to do so, some other persons certainly will.
“Everybody needs a hero, whether that person is their father, mother, relation or someone they don’t even know physically.”