By; KENNETH ORUSI, Asaba
Ahead of the much talked about Ijaw/Itsekiri Peace and Unity Cup tournament 2019, otherwise known as Comrade Sheriff Mulade Peace and Unity Cup, preparations are ongoing and in top gear.
Unlike the first edition which was held in 2017, this year’s edition would have a new dimension as two centers would host the competition.
The centers are Ugborodo and Benikrukru communities both in Warri South-west local government area of Delta State.
Sixteen teams are expected to feature and battle for honours in the tournament, eight in each center as forms are already on sale in various locations as well as the office of the Center for Peace and Environmental Justice (CEPEJ), Ugolo which serves as the temporary secretariat of the Local organising Committee.
“The winner of the tournament this time around will go home with whopping cash prize of One million naira (N1m) and Gold Cup. while the runners up will receive Seven hundred thousand naira (N700, 000) and 3rd placed team Five hundred thousand naira (N500, 000).
“There are also other prizes and awards for Most valuable player, Highest goal scorer, Fair play award for best behaved team and best Goal keeper amongst others”.
Meanwhile in a recent meeting held by the L.O.C, the Chairman Hon. Kenneth Nwaomucha emphasized that this year’s edition would be focused on discovering talented youths between the ages of 15 and 20 years, the ideal age limit for grassroots competition.
He advised the coordinators of the two centers to inform the various teams before registration.
He added that the technical committee with other technical experts would be on ground to do exponent screening of each team before the commencement.
He explained further that the above exercise would help to produce the real age grade players who could be taken to the National league and premier league clubs and would do well “because they have age on their side”.
In another development, the Organizers are intending to showcase ex-International footballers who would play against selected side during the opening and closing ceremonies to serve as a moral booster to the various youths participating in the tourney.
The 2017 edition had ex-Internationals like Kenneth Nwaomucha, Edema Fuludu ( M.O.N), Baldwin Bazuaye (M.O.N), Former Super Eagles Coach Austin Eguavoen ( M.O.N ) who attended the finals though they only participated in penalty shoot out against dignitaries like the Deputy Governor of Delta state Barrister Kingsley Otuaro, Hon Daniel Reyeinaju, former member representing Warri federal constituency, former Chairman Warri South-west council area, Hon. George Ekpemukpolo, Hon. David Tonwe, former Chairman of renowned Ufuoma babes FC. Elder Eddington Kuejubola, Former Delta South senatorial district Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chairman and now Delta state Commissioner for Oil and Gas, Hon. Prince Emman Amgbaduba and others.
This year’s edition promises to be profit yielding as scouts and football agents from across Nigeria and Europe have already signified their interest to be on ground to spot talented players which would go a long way to raise the marketability of the yearly tournament.
One of such organization African Grassroots Football Development with links in Cyprus, Italy and Spain have confirmed their interest to partner with the Organizers moreso with Comrade Mulade who was recently appointed as the 2nd National Vice President of the grassroots football body in Nigeria.
The 2017 edition which produced some talents saw Tebujoh FC. carting home the Gold cup and and a cash prize of Five hundred thousand naira (N500, 000) while Krutie FC who were runners up went home with Three hundred thousand naira (N300, 000) and third placed Kokodiagbene Fc. Smiled home with Two hundred thousand naira (N200, 000).
It would be recalled that that the tournament was initiated with the aim of encouraging and sustaining the existing peace and unity that has been attained by the Ijaws and Itsekiris over the past years.
The tournament is expected to kick of in November 2019.