Bishop Okonkwo wants continuity in organisation of grassroots sports
Presiding Bishop of TREM Church, Dr. Mike Okonkwo, has said that Nigeria is faced with issues of not discovering much talents in sports from the grassroots because most individuals and corporate organisations that organise sporting events does not put enough commitment aimed at keeping the tournament going for a long time.
Speaking at the final of the 19th annual Mike Okonkwo Football Championship (MOFC) held at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, Bishop Okonkwo declared that his desire for organising the championship is to keep encouraging the development of football in the country, and also engage more vulnerable youths in the street to take a career in football and other sports.
While Samjason defeated Team 360 2-0 to win the male category of the MOFC, defending champions, Young talent 99 Academy beat Phoenix 3-0 to emerge champions in the women’s category.
Bishop Okonkwo called on individuals and organisations not to relent in sponsoring football and other sporting activities saying that it will go a long way to solve social issues and create a viable platform for youths to be discovered and natured in events they are interested in.
“I am happy to be able to sustain the MOFC tournament, which has over the years, seen youths discovered in the championship. Some of them were invited to the national team and also take there football careers to the Nigeria league or oversea. One issue that affects sports development and talent discovery at the grassroots is that most times, individuals and organisations don’t continue and sustain any championship they organise. They begin and end the programme with in a short time. This is not good for sports development.
“When a sports championship is organised for a long time, it gives chance for more talents to be discovered, and also raise the awareness of youths to engage more in sports. The key to the success of grassroots championships is continuity, which encourage the youths. TREM Church has been going the extra mile to sustain the continuity of the MOFC no matter the challenges and financial issues faced in putting up the program,” he said.
Okonkwo noted that staging the MOFC final matches to also celebrate his birthday, gives him the strength of impacting into people’s life through the work of God.
Chairman Local organising Committee (LOC) of the MOFC, Iyke Malachy Ndubuzor, said that the championship had lived up to expectations for 19 years running, adding that some youths have been taken off the streets through the MOFC.
“The championship was abridged this year because of funding. More teams did not register this year. As you can see, the fuel subsidy issues and other economy problems in the country affected us to get funds. We struggled to put the event together, but I am happy it was successful. We expect to get more teams next year, which is the 20th edition,” he said.
Cash prizes, trophies and award was given to outstanding players and officials at the tournament.
Nwafor Chima won the MVP award in the male category.
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