*Taiwo Ogunjobi: This initiative is a real new dawn
Seye Oyeleye, Acting Director General, DAWN Commission, on Thursday at the Cocoa House, Ibadan said that the agency will collaborate with South-West Football Forum to reclaim the zone’s old glory not only in football, but also in sports generally.
Oyeleye disclosed this at the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding between DAWN Commission and South West Football Forum and also to unfold the plans by Football Stakeholders in the South-West to reposition football as well as sports in the area.
“DAWN in collaboration with South-West Forum is set to reclaim the glory of the zone not only in football but also sports development.
“South-West in the past was proud of seasoned sports men and women like Dele Jonathan, Nojeem Mayegun, Falilat Ogunkoya. In fact, Green Eagles, the national team was dominated by players from the zone.
“But today the reverse is the case. It is against this background that the two parties would be embarking on Football and sports revival to keep the youth engaged and integrate them,” he said.
DAWN Commission is the agency set up by South-West States Governors to manage their regional integration programmes, which has as a critical core of its mission regional sports development.
The Director General of the agency, who said that the partnership will be staging series of events like Ooduduwa League and pre-season Football Cup, among others assured that the integration will include educational development.
Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi, Chairman of the Forum and Vice President of NFF, who said that the body was set up two years ago, promised that they will embark on rapid sports development in the region, not only to empower the youth, but also to keep them away from crime.
“We need to work for ourselves to improve ourselves. We have fantastic players, athletes, coaches, referees in the region and the only thing we can do is to harness them for optimal performance,” he said.
Akinwunmi, who said that regional integration is not about segregation and succession, retorted that even NFF agreed that the development of football lies in the various regions of the country.
“We in South-Western Nigeria are ready to tap the social and economic potentials inherent in football to provide direct and indirect employment for the people of the region and to integrate them,” he said.
Yomi Oke, Oyo State Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development commended the members of the Forum and DAWN for coming up with the laudable idea, while being emphatic on the need for grassroots sports development.
“We in Oyo State are for grassroots development of sports as well as developing the youth in the areas of football, athletics, referring and coach through constant training,” he said.
Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi, former Secretary General of NFF and Special Adviser to Osun State Gov. Rauf Aregbesola on Football Matters, commended the initiators of the idea, while assuring that “it is a new dawn for sports development in South-Western Nigeria.”
The highlight of the ceremony was the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Commission and football stakeholders, while Oyeleye signed on behalf of the former, Akinwunmi represented the latter.