*Sunshine, Gateway United in opening match
Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) and the South West States Football Forum dubbed Western Nigeria pre-season tournament and set as a prelude to the start of the Nigeria Professional Football League and Nigeria National League will kick of on Saturday, 2nd December, at Agege township stadium, Lagos.
The seven days tournament is expected to feature 11 teams drawn from the Premier League, National League and state representative from Ekiti state, across the region.
This was disclosed by the Acting Director General, DAWN, Seye Oyeleye, during a press conference and presentation of the tournament trophy to the Western Nigeria Football Forum top officials at the headquarters of the Commission, 10th floor Cocoa House, Ibadan.
Other football stakeholders present at the presentation include; Chairman Football Association, Osun state, Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi, President Nigeria Referee Association (NRA) Tade Azeez, Oyo State FA chairman, James Odeniran and the secretary of Western Nigeria Football Forum, Akin Akinbobola.
Teams expected to feature include MFM FC, Sunshine stars of Akure, Remo Stars, Crown FC of Ogbomoso, 36 Lions of Lagos, Akure City, 3SC, Gateway FC and Collin Edwin.
Ojeleye said the tournament would serve as platforms for the club’s playing in the league to assess their teams, getting referees and match officials ready for the new league season, serve as an appraisal for the team on their preparedness for the new season.
According to him, “the competition will equally play a valuable role in helping the players maintain their competitive edge, stay in peak physical condition ahead of the new season, foster better relationships between the fans of the respective teams, provide a synergy for football development programmes among the Western Nigerian clubs and provide an avenue for the discovery of young players in Western Nigeria.”
He added that “DAWN Commission is indeed committed to supporting the aspirations of our states to achieve excellence in sports, as well as building effective institutions, as we pursue the regional development agenda. Working our various partners along this line and especially signposting this aspiration by the partnership with the South West States Football Forum, we believe that our states are well on their way to re-energising not just football, but the entire competitive sporting architecture for optimum result in a manner that promotes and leverages regional integration and sustainable sports and youth development.”
Osun state FA chairman, Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi described the maiden edition of the tournament as a new dawn, and urged the media to help in publicity.
The former Secretary-General, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) said “this tournament will go a long way to send message across to the world that South West is back to develop sport, starting with football.”
The chairman of the Nigerian Referee Association (NRA), Tade Azeez, corroborated Ogunjobi’s declaration that the maiden edition is the beginning of a bigger picture of what would follow in subsequent edition.
He added that the development will gainfully engage the youths and contribute to football artistry in the region.