The Technical Director of the annual Channels International Kids Cup, Austin Okon-Akpan, says the competition has provided a platform for sports tourism development and national integration among children.
“The competition has provided sort of tourism and one of the objectives of the Channels International Kids Cup is to provide national integration,’’ Okon Akpan told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos.
NAN reports that the competition, now in Season 10, began on May 21 at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, and has children from Republic of Benin, Ghana and from across the country.
The Channels International Kids Cup is organised by Channels Television, Nigeria also has the objective of promoting grassroots football development.
The competition which became international this year, has 16 teams slugging it out for honours.
“At the time of its conception, we thought it out that we will have the kids from different parts of the country come to play football for the love of the game.
“The game will increase team bonding, mental alertness and afford the kids the opportunity of making friends among themselves from all over Nigeria, while combining education with their football career.
“Now that the tournament has gone international, it gives a wider and better spectrum of opportunity to the kids to freely associate with others from across Africa,’’ he said.
Akpan said that this year’s competition has in attendance kids from the neighbouring countries such as Republic of Benin and Ghana which was a plus for it.
“During this year’s Season 10, we have kids from Nigeria play their Ghana and Benin Republic counterparts.
“The match between Ughelli, Delta State representatives and Republic of Benin has brought friendship between them, while some of them can afford to pick some French from other kids which is a good thing.
“Also, the Nigerian kids have a lot to learn from their Ghanaian counterparts about tolerance and others because football is global.
“The kids can start small and grow bigger; so that is the platform we have provided,’’ he said.
Okon-Akpan said that though it would be difficult for the organisers to monitor the progress of the kids, he added that other stakeholders should be able to do so.
“It is difficult to discover talents and more difficult to monitor them; what we have done is to discover them.
“Aside their discovery, we may not be able to go further because we are only a broadcast station. This competition is Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) protected.
“NFF wants the value of this competition protected, so they want to monitor the players. We have had players from this tournament play for the national U-15 team.
“The joy we derive from organising the tournament is that the kids are progressing in their career, we have others who will see to the prospect of these kids,’’ he said.