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Onyemachara wants corporate Nigeria to emulate AITEO


[FILES] FIFA Secretary General, Fatma Samoura (left); FIFA President, Gianni Infantino; CAF President, Ahmad; and other dignitaries at the first edition of the NFF-AITEO Awards…March 2019

Former International, Mike Onyemachara has called on corporate Nigeria to emulate oil and gas outfit, AITEO by investing in the country’s sports, saying the nation would be a better place if those with the resources invested in the youths.

Onyemachara, who was a member of the famous Damman Miracle squad, which shocked the world when they came from four goals down to beat the old Soviet Union in the quarterfinals of the U-20 World Cup in Saudi in 1989, believes that helping to grow the sports sector would be of immense economic value to Nigeria.

The former Captain of the defunct ACB, First Bank and Iwuanyanwu Nationale (now Heartland) football clubs praised AITEO for investing in Nigerian football, saying their gesture has given many youths the platform to pursue their dreams.

He added: “If we had more companies investing in Nigerian football, there would be more competitions and better opportunities for the teaming Nigerian youths to hone their skills and earn their livelihood from their natural gifts.

“AITEO every year commits so much money on Nigerian football through the national teams and sponsorship of the FA Cup, which is now known as AITEO Cup.

“Just last week, they sponsored the NFF-AITEO Awards, which rewarded some of the best performers in Nigerian football last season, and more importantly, recognized the efforts of the Super Eagles’ class of 1994.

“Now, we, members of the Damman Miracle team are optimistic that it would get to our turn some day. They are determined to ensure that the labours of our past heroes do not go in vain.

“I am looking forward to the day other companies and wealthy individuals will join AITEO to lift Nigerian sports.”

Onyemachara also wants the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to extend the recognition to other past stars of the national team, as a way of encouraging upcoming players to strive to be the best in the game, adding that coaches and other officials who served the country well in the past should be accorded due recognition.

“Nigeria now reaps so much from its footballers overseas, who earn a lot of money and bring back the foreign currency to the country.

“So many families have been taken out of poverty line through their sons and daughters playing football abroad. So, investments in the game play important economic roles in the modern Nigerian society.”

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