The Governor of Ondo State and Chairman, Western Nigeria Governors Forum, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), has pledged to give his support to the Nigerian American Football Association (NAFA) and Lagos Marine American Football Club, asking the bodies to visit Ondo State in order to explore youthful talents that are in abundance.
The governor, who promised to partner the organisations to use sports to grow wealth and promote peace in Nigeria also declared that his administration will soon build a world-class football academy to train, grow and expose youths in Ondo State to the international clubs because sport is a goldmine that his administration and Governors in Western Nigeria plan to use to wage war against the surge of youth unemployment currently ravaging the country.
Akeredolu, who was represented by the state Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, Barrister Dotun Owanikin, at the maiden edition of American Flagship Football exhibition game held at National Stadium, Surelere, Lagos at the weekend, vowed to use his connections across the length and breadth of Nigeria to revolutionise the growth of American Flagship Football Game in the country.
“Sports, in general, seem to be the only issue that can draw out patriotism from average Nigerians because sports still appear to be the only soothing balm that brings them happiness in the face of apathy and prevailing general gloom arising from the economic realities of these times.
“It is equally noteworthy that your organisations do not only set out to unite all American Football Houses in Nigeria but to create opportunities for the youth in this country. These opportunities will no doubt propel these youth to actualise their potentials to be financially independent, to be able to explore the world, to win laurels for their country, and thereby in most cases enable them to give back to the community and their country when wealth attends their exploration in sports.
“Let say very expressly that the game of football has developed beyond the stage of amateurism that is a state where football was seen not to be played for pecuniary consideration. Today, the game of football had transformed into a big-time business to all stakeholders. It is also a means of youth development and financial empowerment. It is against this backdrop that I will enjoin NAFA and Lagos Marines American Football Club to use your international connections and network to open a bigger space of more opportunities to the Nigerian Youth through replication of this programme beyond Lagos.
“Please, Ondo State beckons and we hopefully look forward to your collaboration with us in the development of sports in the sunshine state. The introduction of American Football will be novel and I urge you to come and invest in my state. I can assure you on behalf of the young people of Ondo State that we will key into this,” he concluded.
Also speaking, the founder and chairman of NAFA, Mr Babajide Akeredolu, said the purpose of the exhibition game was to create awareness on the existence and importance of the American Flagship Football game in Nigeria so that Nigerians especially the younger generation could have an ample of opportunities to exhibit their talents, get exposed to the world and become great in life.
“People focus more on football round-leather game in Nigeria but we want to offer Nigerians and investors to a new dimension. Flagship football is an alternative to round-leather football and rugby. It is very exciting. It is the most lucrative game in the United States of America after Basket Ball. It is also good for health.
The exhibition game was played between Lagos Marine Islanders and Lagos Marine Mainlanders with the Mainlanders scoring 28 points while the Islanders scored six points.