…As Convener faults official conduct at the tournament
By Bianca Iboma-Emefu
The fifth edition of Gregory Imafidon Foundation, soccer tourney for secondary school boys in Benin, Edo state, came to an end June 1st, 2023 amidst pomp and pageantry with Niger college crowned as champions after defeating Edokpolor Grammar School in an explosive penalty shoot out which took both schools to playing sudden death.
Although, Niger College and Edokpolor Grammar School game ended 1-1 in a draw after 90 minutes of play time . The 12-day event came to a thrilling conclusion, featuring scintillating cultural displays, singing, dancing and drumming as well as exciting displays by various groups to announce the end of the tournament.
The prestigious soccer tourney was tagged: “Catch them young, kick against crime ” had over twenty three secondary schools in Edo state competing for the gold cup as well as consolation prizes.
Ogbe secondary school defeated Benin Technical College to emerged 3rd place winner by alone goal to nil to win the bronze medal.The tourney was a huge success as
cash, scholarships awards were part of the consolation prizes, given to the players and schools at the end of the soccer tournament.
Convener of the championship,Mr. Gregory Imafidon, a US based medical practitioner,who was physically present during the tournament, said at the closing ceremony,
that the tournament aim was to boost students’ competitive spirit and nurture talents, on sports activities and equally encourage students to showcase their talents in sports.
“Over 23 schools participated in this year’s highly-rated tournament for secondary school boys in Edo State.The objective behind the tourney is to use it to discover talents among bonafide secondary school students in the state.
Imafidon stressed the needs for all to take school sports seriously as he stated that his passion for engaging the youth positively will discourage them from getting themselves involved with crime, so that they can become useful to themselves, family and the society at large.
He expressed sadness and condemned the attitude of some government officials who wanted to stand as stumbling block against the successful hosting of the tournament this year.
Imafidon lauded governor Godwin Obaseki and the entire team including the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education and others who gave their supports in one way or the other, to ensure the soccer tourney was a huge success, especially, granting the approval for the use of the facilities and the school authorities, who trusted and believe in our dreams by allowing their schools to participate in the soccer tournament.
Furthermore, Imafidon faulted the attitude of an official that would have hindered the successful hosting of the tournament.
“We did face some unnecessary roadblocks which I personally feel wasn’t healthy for the growth of sport’s development in Edo state. It’s so shameful that after a proposal had been written and approved by the Permanent Secretary to allow all public schools participate in this laudable tournament tagged “Catch them young, Kick against crime” an enemy of the state and one who does not like the progress of youth and sport development in Edo state decided to call on some principals of public schools in Edo state to withdraw from this self sponsored tournament organized to support and meaningfully engage the students. We want to take them off the street, empower them through financial gifts,like scholarships and other educational support, with our major goal of encouraging the school age boys to reduce the rate of crime in Edo state.
“I personally reach out to Jennifer Asuen, the Director of Schools in the Ministry of Education through WhatsApp Chat to see why the sudden sole decision taken, only to respond that the initial proposal written and duly signed by the permanent secretary didn’t go through the right channel and that I should please write another proposal and will be looked into. Where on earth does this insubordination and power tussle happens? This act by Jennifer is highly condemnable and has no place in the development of grassroots sports in Edo State. This is one of the reasons why great people of Edo indigenes in diaspora find it difficult to invest and support good causes, that can help in the development of this great state. I don’t want to think because Jennifer is not from Edo state and that’s the reason she took this unwelcome decision.
” Edo indigenes are very accommodating and very receptive to any body with good plans but we will not tolerate any body trying to discourage the good work of individuals and indigenes of Edo state who is ready to spend their hard earned money for the progress of the state”, he noted.
Mr. Imafidon however stated that he will not relent in his efforts and determination to continue to sponsor the tournament despite the challenges as he calls on all Edo state sons and daughters to support the tournament with cash and other gifts prizes.
He said “We therefore wish to assure you that, we will not relent in our oars and we shall definitely continue with this tournament until our expectations to make the best of our youths are achieved.
“Edo state is our own, we have no other state to call our own. We can’t fold our hands to see a non indigene of Edo state discourage the progress of youth development in Edo state simply because there’s a godfather behind you. We must fight till the right thing is done in Edo state. We can’t afford to lose any more youth to crime. Moreso,Edo State must move forward and remain a crime free state.
Imafidon urge all parents, guardians and other stakeholders to embrace the concept of this tournament and encouraged their children and wards to take advantage of this opportunity to build their destinies, ignore crimes and become useful to themselves and the society.
He appreciated all who had participated and supported the event, stating that without their contribution, they would not have achieve the essence of this programme, which is for the betterment of Edo state in particular and Nigeria in general.