By; AYO OJEDOKUN, Lagos
This year 17th edition of Bishop Mike Okonkwo soccer tournament was officially kicked off over the weekend at the pitch of the National Institute for sports (NIS), Lagos, with teams competing in this year’s championship expressing confidence to win the title.
Samjasson football who came 3rd last year, are hopeful of a better outing in this year’s edition.
For this year’s edition a total of 72 teams are participating in the 17th edition which Comprising 64 male and eight female teams competing for honours in the championship.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the championship, chairman local organising committee, Deacon Malachy Ndubuzor said the tournament is being used to spread the Gospel to youths and also give them a platform to exhibit their skills.
To him and his committee, the competition is open to any club, including Muslim teams,
‘The Mike Okonkwo tournament has come to stay. Over the past editions, talents discovered in the tournament have taken their skills to the international arena.
“Our vision is to help youths be more focused in their career and imbibe good character as they grow. We use strict measures to register the clubs participating in the tournament to avoid any anomalies in our society,” he said.
He revealed that the defending champions had been disqualified from the championship because they registered late, adding, “we are determined to instill discipline and good conduct to the clubs.”
Chairman Mike Okonkwo Youth and Education Initiative, Jaiyeola Folarin said the competition has continued to improve yearly
He stated that the competition is the church’s corporate social responsibility to the nation as a way to engage the youths meaningful thereby taking their minds off social vices
For her part, Managing Director, Skiddo Foods. Julia Shinaba said that she is elated at the inclusion of female teams in the championship
According to her, it will help develop the female game at the grassroots.
In the opening matches of the championship, former champions, Maryland Football Club defeated Adenose Football Club 3-2,
Egbeda FC outclassed Bio Math Football Club 3-0, while United FC pipped Strong Tower Football Club 2-1
The annual competition has over the years produced players for the country’s various national teams.
Matches hold Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays at the National Institute of Sports (NIS), National Stadium, Surulere Lagos.