By Olayinka Elebute
….Says it’s a new era for beach soccer in the country
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has described the kickoff of the maiden Nigeria Beach Soccer League as a dream come true.
Speaking Friday at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos during a press conference to herald the League which kicks off on Saturday, NFF 1st Vice President, Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi, who represented NFF President, Amaju Melvin Pinnick, said he was ecstatic on the birth of his long-overdue baby, and that the Federation is throwing its full weight behind the Beach Soccer League so it can stand side by side with its counterparts across the globe.
“Honestly, it’s a great pleasure being here to witness the historic kickoff of our Beach Soccer League. I’m overwhelmed with inexplicable joy over the project because it has been one that has been very close to my heart. I have been telling my friends since the past few days that my baby has been born in Lagos.
“Over the years, there has been a clamour for the beach soccer league in Nigeria. So, the NFF sat down to draft the rules and regulations that would guide the success of this great league. It hasn’t been easy because there has always been one hurdle or the other but we have forged on to make sure this comes to pass,” Akinwunmi said.
He said further that the NFF has put very strong structures in place to make the League succeed, whilst calling on everyone to make this maiden edition a huge success.
“I’m so excited about this league because the passion is high and the league is kicking off in Lagos, the land of soccer excellence. What gives success is when players begin to grow in the league and become international players and this platform will provide that, unlike what he had in the past.
“I had no doubt in my mind that this league will succeed because of the calibre of people that would be running it. I’m very confident that we would go forward. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons I came here today is to let people know that the Nigeria Football Federation has endorsed this league and I can also assure you that Mr. Amaju Pinnick would be at the beach to grace the opening matches. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is the beginning of a great new era of beach soccer in Nigeria,” Barr Akinwunmi concluded.
Earlier, the President of the Africa Beach Soccer Union and Coordinator of the Nigeria Beach Soccer Association, Mr. Mahmoud Hadejia, welcomed all the participating teams and urged them to play by the rules. He also assured that everything they needed to enjoy their stay and participation have been provided.
“I welcome you all to this historical event taking place in a few days. We have put everything in place to ensure you have a wonderful stay but we urge you to play by the rules and not be found wanting in any way.
“I also want you to know that this is an opportunity for you to build your careers in beach soccer because unlike football where age limits continued participation, in beach soccer, you can play until you’re well over 40. I wish you all a memorable experience,” Hadejia said.
In the draws, which was conducted during the international press conference, the 8 participating teams were divided into Groups A and B.
Group A has Kebbi, Badagry, Kwara, and Anambra, whilst Group B comprises Kaduna, Igbogbo, Edo and Smart City.
The opening fixture is between Kebbi and Bagadgry.