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I’m into sports sponsorship to help Nigerian youths – Frank Momoh

By Gowon Akpodonor
09 July 2016   |   2:16 am
Nigerians, who witnessed the ‘boom era’ of sports sponsorship in the 1980s and early 90s, will forever remember the role played by the former Pillar of Sports in Africa...
Frank Momoh (seventh standing from left), and chairman of Edo FA, Frank Ilaboya (sixth standing) with players and officials of Bendel Insurance FC after winning the maiden South-south Champion of Champions football tournament in Benin City.

Frank Momoh (seventh standing from left), and chairman of Edo FA, Frank Ilaboya (sixth standing) with players and officials of Bendel Insurance FC after winning the maiden South-south Champion of Champions football tournament in Benin City.

Nigerians, who witnessed the ‘boom era’ of sports sponsorship in the 1980s and early 90s, will forever remember the role played by the former Pillar of Sports in Africa, late Chief M. K. O. Abiola.

Bashorun Abiola was not a known athlete in his youth days, but he turned out to be one of the most celebrated sports personalities in Africa because of his moral and financial support for sports men and women across the continent.

Apart from his ‘cash flow’ for players and officials of the defunct Abiola Babes of Abeokuta, a club that provided large number of players to the national team of 1985-87, including the likes of Rashidi Yekini, Raymond King, Christopher Friday, Yisa Sofoluwe, Clement Temile and Sunday Eboigbe, Abiola’s support for sports was also felt in the personal life of players and officials of the various national teams, supporters club members and even sports journalists.

Since the death of the businessman, publisher and politician in July 1998, the nation’s sports has been without a ‘solid pillar’ in terms of support.

However, the long wait for another ‘pillar’ may have ended with the emergence of Frank Momoh.

In the past three years, Momoh, who is the owner of FROT Group, an energy and construction company based in Lekki, Lagos, has been providing sponsorship and other support for Nigerian sports, including football, table tennis and wheelchair basketball at state and national levels.

The fifth edition of the Victor Ochei International Wheelchair Basketball Championship in Lagos is around the corner, and Momoh says his sponsorship would not stop despite the dwelling economic situation in the country.

“The fact that the Wheelchair basketball championship is for the physically challenged people in the society is the more reason why I will continue to support it,” Momoh told The Guardian during the week.

The championship, organized by the Wheelchair Basketball Federation, led by Bukola Olopade, will hold from September 19 to 24 at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos. Momoh has been part of the past three editions, rendering cash to support the tournament’s main sponsor, Victor Ochei.

Earlier in the year, Momoh, who hails from Edo State, single-handedly bankrolled the inaugural South-South Champion of Champions Football Tournament.

At the final game watched by many football enthusiasts, including ex-internationals and NFF officials, the 1978 National Challenge Cup champions, Bendel Insurance FC, emerged victorious to return to winning ways.

Insurance led by Roland Ewere defeated hard-fighting Starlets from Akwa Ibom State 1-0 to grab the N1 million prize, while Akwa Starlets received N500,000, just as all the teams got N100, 000 appearance fees.

The eight teams that featured in the tourney were Inneh Stars, Dynamite FC, Insurance (Edo); J. Atete, Delta Force (Delta); Yenagoa Academy (Bayelsa), Akwa Starlets and Go Round FC (Rivers).

Before then, his company (FROT Group) had sealed a sponsorship deal worth N2.5m with Edo FA for the 2016 Edo Football Association Cup. The deal saw winners earning N500,000, the biggest prize money to be received by champions of Edo FA Cup.

Momoh told The Guardian that he was excited to be part of the revival of Edo State FA Cup: “We’re happy to be part of the revival plan and we hope our support will go a long way in bringing back the glamour of football in the state.

“The old Bendel State, which had the present Edo and Delta States, was very strong in football because it invested in the Principal’s Cup. That is the way we want to go because we believe there would be no need to go to the academies when we have viable football competitions involving secondary school students.

“We will continue to invest in the Principal’s Cup and one of the things we will do is to sensitise the teachers to play by the rules by ensuring that no mercenary featured in the competition. This is because if we get it right, more sponsors will come into sports sponsorship as their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR),” he added.

Apart from his interest in building a solid foundation for football in his home state (Edo), Momoh also believes there is the need to support the leadership of the NFF to have organized set up at the national level.

In December last year, FROT GROUP played a part as one of the major sponsors of NFF’s elite programme, which saw chairmen of the various State FAs taken to the United Kingdom on a four-day leadership training programme. It was learnt the company spent about N10 million on the London training.

Among the State FA chairmen who benefited from NFF’s first batch of leadership training in London were Ibrahim Gusau (Chairman of Chairmen); Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi (Osun); Amanze Uchegbulam (Imo); Busari Ishola (Kwara); Mohammed Alkali (Nasarawa); Yahuza Adamu (Bauchi); Abubakar Ladan (Kebbi); Oswald Atuake (Cross River); Frank Ilaboya (Edo); Margaret Icheen (Benue); Abdulkadir Magaji (Kaduna), James Odeniran (Oyo); Chidi Ofo Okenwa (Enugu) and Porbeni Ogun (Bayelsa).

“One thing is to sponsor an event, another is to be part of it. What I usually do is to make sure I create time to attend some of the events I sponsor. By so doing, we are able to take note of some of the things we need to correct in the future. We saw the leadership-training programme in London as a laudable project by the NFF because the chairmen of the State FAs are the first-line charge for real development of the game at the grassroots. They also constitute the primary constituency of stakeholders,” Momoh stated.

FROT GROUP was also part of the sponsors of the recently concluded International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) championship held in Lagos.

Asked if he would extend his hand of sponsorship to Team Nigeria for the fast approaching 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Momoh said: “I agree that companies and individuals have roles to play in sports sponsorship, but those administering our sports equally have a duty to perform in making sure that sponsors are not discouraged.

“In some other countries, an individual or companies that sponsor athletes to major competitions are allowed to enjoy some mileage. If you sponsor one or two athletes throughout their training, such athletes are expected to wear your company’s logo during the main competition. That is the practice in other places. But our officials at the federal level don’t see it from that way, and it is discouraging sponsors from putting their money on the athletes. I think we need to sit down and fashion out a way for the sponsorship to be beneficial to individuals and companies,” Momoh stated.