By; AYO OJEDOKUN, Lagos
An exhibition game organised by the Nigerian American Football Association aimed at popularising American Football in the country has ended in Lagos with participants commending the organisers for such a worthy initiative.
The game which was held last weekend at the practice pitch of the National Institute For Sports (NIS), National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos saw ‘Team Islanders’ locking horns with ‘Team Mainlanders’ to the delight of the enthusiastic fans.
At the end of the more than two hours explosive encounter divided into four quarters, it was the Mainland that carried the day scoring many touch downs ( goals) to amass a total of 28 points to their opponent’s 6 to emerge winners.
President of the Nigerian American Football Association, Babajide Akeredolu told New Nigerian Sports shortly after the tension soaked encounter that he was happy with the turn out as the game has come to stay in the country.
According to him, with the successful hosting of the exhibition game, efforts will now be intensified for grassroots development of the sports especially in schools and colleges and the official kick off of the League in March this year.
” I’m happy with the successes recorded in the first official exhibition match of the game and I can assure you that there is no going back in moving the sports forward in the country.
“We’re not yet done with the exhibition game as we’ll continue to do that as a way of creating more awareness for the sports and hopefully, take it to other states of the Federation.
Earlier in his speech, the special guest of honor and Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) who was represented by the Ondo State Commissioner of Sports, Akindotun Olubunmi Owanikin commended the organisees; saying that Ondo State is ready to partner with them to introduce the sports in the Sunshine State.
” The game of football has developed beyond the stage of amateurism to a stage where football has transformed into big time business for all stakeholders.
“It’s also a means of youth development and financial empowerment and it is against this background that I will enjoin NAFA and Lagos Marines American Football Club to use your international connections and network to open bigger space for more opportunities for Nigerian youths through a replication of this programme beyond Lagos and Ondo State here beckons and we hopefully look forward to your collaboration with us in developing the sports in the Sunshine State.
The Governor while maintaining that the sports will attract many followers in no distant time appealed to corporate organisations to support the organisers in their quest to take more youths off the street and crime with the game.
” No government at any level be it; Federal, State or Local Government can fund sports alone. It therefore beholds on sports loving individuals, corporate organisations and stakeholders to always contribute their quota towards development of sports. And I want them to support the organisers to enable them consolidate on their plan of making American football a house hold name in the country”, he concluded.
Managing Director/ CEO of Inspire Marketing and Branding International who said he has followed the game for the past four years, noted that with the introduction of the sports, Nigerian youths now have the opportunity of not only exhibiting their talents but making a living through the sports.