‘Our Gains In GTBank Lagos Principal Cup’
For students of Birrel Avenue Senior Secondary School, Sabo, the excitement of winning the GTBank Lagos State principal cup for the first time will forever remain a talking point in their academic career.
On Wednesday, the Sabo Warriors ‘smashed all barriers” to emerge winner of the competition, beating former champions, Keke High School, Ijaye, in a thrilling final played at Teslim Balogun Stadium.
It ended 4-2 in a penalty shootout, after a 1-1 draw at regulation time. Before the final, only few fans gave Birrel Secondary School the chance of lifting the trophy.
Their opponent, Keke High School, came with various tricks, having won the trophy two years ago.
Their flag-and-banner-waving fans were all over the stadium, drumming and dancing in anticipation of another victory.
But as much as they tried, the ‘Sabo Warriors’ stood their ground till victory was secured. While Birrel school smiled home with the N1 million cash prize, Keke High School got N750,000.
The same goes for the winners in the girls category, just as cash prizes were also given to the 1st runners up, 2nd and 3rd position.
Speaking with The Guardian shortly after winning the trophy, star player of the day, Daniel Emmanuel, whose long range free-kick gave Birrel School the lead in the 55th minute, said that winning the title for the first time was like lifting a FIFA World cup.
“I feel on top of the world right now, Emmanuel said. No body gave us the chance of reaching this final, not to talk of winning the trophy.
When the game started, it was like a mission impossible, but we told ourselves that we could do it. I must give kudos to Keke High School for their fighting spirit, but to say the fact, we deserved this victory. I thank GTBank and Lagos State for this golden opportunity.
I will never forget this moment in my life,” he said. On his part, Oseni Sodiq, who equalized for Keke High School, said that they paid the big prize for failing to make good use of the opportunities that came their way, especially in the first half.
“But I am happy for getting to this stage of the competition because so many schools actually started the journey.”
For six years now, the competition has provided a developmental platform for students in Lagos State to prove their worth in grassroots football.
A total of 615 teams drawn from secondary schools across six districts in Lagos state started the journey in the competition, which was tagged “Smash all Barriers.”
According to the Chief Executive Officer of GTBank, Mr. Segun Agbaje, the tournament is geared towards the development of grassroots football. “It is the discovery of young football talents, fostering camaraderie amongst secondary students as well as helping students to actualize their dream.
“What we set out to achieve for young ones is to create a platform for them to compete, develop and create values and work out a passion for themselves, not necessarily to raise professional footballers.
If you look at the attendance today, we are encouraged and we think it’s been a great success.
We believe that one of the best places to learn the principles of hard work, competing values, is through sports and if they have those values, we are very sure, they will do well in life.”
Speaking further, Agbaje said: “We started the Principals Cups game slowly, and now we have one in Ogun and Port-Harcourt.
In order to do things properly, we need to take time to invest the right resources, so that many ultimately will see the game getting lot more interesting.”
On his part, the Chairman of the Lagos State Football Association and the 1st Vice-President, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Seyi Akinwunmi said: “These kind of tournaments is to ensure the boys and girls are infused into the national policy so that we could have a pathway, which everyone will know and go through.
There’s a difference between literate and illiterate footballers, and so, we shouldn’t be left behind. That is why we are infusing and trying to balance up education and football.”