- Says reforms aimed at job creation and youth devt
One of Nigeriaâ€™s foremost football clubs, Bendel Insurance FC, was rebranded on Tuesday night at the Government House in Benin with most of the players and coaches that made the team household name in the countryâ€™s football present.
Legends like 86-year-old Alabi Aisien who won the 1978 Challenge Cup final as head coach of the Benin Arsenal and the first coach to win the FIFA Under-16 World Cup in China in 1985, Sebastine Brodericks-Imasuen, were present at the event along with several ex-players of the team.
Speaking at the event, Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, said his administrationâ€™s vision to reform sports is aimed at creating jobs and curbing restiveness among youths.
The governor unveiled the new logo of the club which has the legendary Queen Idia mask as the main attraction. Also, Obaseki unveiled sets of brand new jerseys, team bus, technical team as well as manual for the rebranded Bendel Insurance Football Club. The new technical crew of the team is headed by Monday Odigie as Manager, while Baldwin Bazuaye, is the Head Coach with Greg Ikhenoba as his Assistant.
According to Obaseki, â€œWe have a keen interest to reform the sports sector in the state, and this is aimed at providing solutions to youth restiveness and unemployment. For us, sports have the potential to uplift the lives of our people and offer hope to youths who seek a better country.
â€œEdo people are sports-loving. We will leverage this as we continue our reforms and give hope to our teeming youths. The steps made in reforming the Bendel Insurance FC will serve as reference point to drive more reforms in the sector.
â€œThe Benin Arsenal I know will soon bounce back big and with what I have seen today, its obvious that a silent revolution on how club-sides should be properly managed outside governmentâ€™s funding is happening,â€ he stressed further.
The governor added that the reforms will focus on grassroots sports development, noting, â€œDesign and contracts for the construction of mini stadium in each local government area across the state have been completed. Local government chairmen will be mandated to ensure that the project is completed to encourage young men and women at the grassroots to tap into sports.â€
Obaseki called on investors in the state to support the present administrationâ€™s efforts to restore the state to its pride of place in sports in the country.
Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu, hailed â€œthe achievements of the club, which has a reputation of producing top stars for the national team. These include, George Omokaro, Peter Egharevba, Henry Ogboe, Agwo Naji, Austin Eguavoen, Wilson Oruma, Osaze Odemwingie, Julius Aghahowa, Elderson Echiejile, Baldwin Bazuaye, Pius Ikedia and several other ex-internationals.These great players have represented the state at national and international assignments.â€
Shaibu added, â€œThe decision to rebrand the Bendel Insurance FCâ€™s logo with the image of Queen Idia was to project the club members as warriors, out to win battles. I am optimistic that the rebranded Bendel Insurance FC will emerge as a force to contend with.â€
On his part, President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, who was physically present at the event, commended the state government for its initiatives in repositioning Bendel Insurance FC, and urged â€œThe state government to partner corporate bodies for sponsorship to achieve self-funding and ensure the club is not dependent on government grants anymore.â€
“It is important for football clubs to run independent of government interference to ensure consistency. The club can develop its cards; Silver and Premium cards and VIP stand to serve as means for generating funds,â€ he added.
Former Sports Commissioner of the state, Brown Ebewele, Igoh Igumah, who was House of Representatives Sports Committee kingpin, were among the distinguished sports personalities that graced the occasion.