Scouts’ apathy worries Udeze as organisers list 40 teams for Mike Okonkwo tourney
Former Super Eagles’ defender, Ifeanyi Udeze, has described scouts’ apathy to grassroots football championships as a big disservice to the country.
Speaking ahead of the 18th Mike Okonkwo Football Championship, which kicks off on May 28 in Lagos, Udeze said grassroots football hold the key to the country’s football development, adding that neglecting it means denying budding talents opportunity to express their talents.
Udeze, who was part of the draws for the tournament held at the TREM Headquarters in Lagos at the weekend, said the nation would gain more if it scouts for and develops players from the grassroots to play in the Nigeria League and the national teams.
“I think the initiative by TREM is another way to take boys and girls that love soccer out of the streets.
“At the semifinals level, I will bring scouts to pick talents from the championship and I urge Nigeria Football Federation’s (NFF) technical department, football clubs and agents in the country to also attend grassroots tournaments like this to fish out talents.
“I am always worried when I attend grassroots football championships and can’t find any scout from the NPFL, NFF or national teams. Attention must be paid to the streets and grassroots where some world class footballers were discovered and nurtured to stardom,” he said.
This year’s Mike Okonkwo tournament will feature 32 boys and eight girls’ teams, who will battle for honours at the football pitch of the Digital Bridge Institute (formerly Nitel Ground) Oshodi, Lagos.
According to Chairman of the local organising committee, Malachy Ndubuzor, apart from helping players to achieve their goals in football, the organisers will also train some players in other crafts and businesses to sustain their life if they eventually do not make a career in football.
After the draws, Hot Eagles were paired against AUS Exclusive FC in the opening game of the championship, while in the girls’ opening game, Dannaz FC will battle with PKE Queens FC.