The Minister of State for Youth Development, Ayodele Olawande, has promised a partnership between the Federal Government and the sporting community in Agege to make the Obasa Cup football tournament a state-wide event.
Olawande made the promise at the weekend at the Anwaru-Islam School venue of the final sporting event which began a month ago in honour of the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa.
This was even as top European football agents, Sosnovchi Veniami and Sharif Tariq as well as Busola Akinyemi, acclaimed FIFA player agent and Alhaji Datti Umar Yusuf of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), identified talents who they plan to nurture for national and international placements.
Speaking at the event, Olawande stressed the need for constant youth engagements by well-meaning Nigerians adding that the government was open to ideas that would give citizens of young ages a sense of belonging.
The Minister, while commending Abdul-Ganiyu Vinod Obasa, founder of Vinod Football Academy and organiser of the tournament, for the positive impact in the youth of Agege, said he would be a part of further discussions to expand the scope of the tournament.
In his remarks, Mr. Tayo Ayinde, Chief of Staff to the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, promised to sponsor some of the local footballers to Spain to play professionally.
“A football club is coming from Spain by February 2024 to harness talents in Lagos and they will start from Agege,” he said while urging Abdul-Ganiyu not to relent in making Agege the hub of football talents in the state.
Also speaking at the event, Speaker Obasa noted that beyond sports, the event inadvertently celebrated Agege and its richness.
The Speaker, who noted the importance of sports in any society that aims at development, said it was in the interest of the public that the Lagos Sports Commission Law was amended to broaden the vision of the state in that area.
“Looking at the developed nations, you would see that the sports industry has become so great to the extent that we now have no choice than to attend to the interests of our youth here in Nigeria. We just have to do something.
“If we put down N20 million annually to grow the Lagos League for example, imagine how many teams would be struggling to win that amount. Let’s put N10 million on boxing or table tennis too and you will see what would happen. This is one of the best ways to take the youth out of the streets.
“Sports is a way to get out of unemployment and insecurity and I have told the Commissioner for Sports that we have to do this together for the interest of the public.
“Imagine the number of people that would gather should an Agege team be playing a team from Lagos Island. Also imagine how this would boost micro and small businesses and the economy at such times,” he said.
Thanking the organiser of the tournament and his team, the Speaker promised to be involved in subsequent editions so that the event would spread across the entire state.
Abdul-Ganiyu said he decided to establish a football academy and the sporting event to bridge a gap and reduce the lapses in grassroots sports development that need to be corrected.
“Apart from that, there are too many talents at the grassroots, but very limited opportunities to bring them to the forefront. I felt there was a need to change the narrative,” he said.