Some Nigerian International footballers have advised the three tiers of government and sport lovers to encourage grassroots football competition for future success of sport in the country.
They spoke separately at the final match of the Bet9ja Elephant Cup, between Oloke FC and BitExpress FC at the Ogba Ashade Palace in Agege area of Lagos State, on Sunday.
Bet9ja Elephant Cup is a 5-Aside grassroots football competition that has been in existence for over 20 years.
Oloke FC defeated BitExpress FC in the final match by three goals to two through a penalty kick after the 20-20 minutes encounter, to win the 2020/21 Bet9ja Elephant Cup.
Sylvester Igbonu, a Nigerian professional football player, who currently plays as a striker/ attacking midfielder in the Russian Premier League club, Dynamo Moscow, described grassroots as the future success of Nigeria football.
Igbonu said grassroots football should be encouraged to enable more youths show interest in the sport in the country.
“This is a sport that bring everybody together; it is what people appreciate a lot, we are all once here, we really appreciate it. I came all the way from Russia to celebrate with my people, partake and watch the grassroots football that brings us together”.
Igbonu, however, advised governments to encourage more youths to participate in the sporting activities by building more pitches for grassroots sports.
Also, Lukman Haruna, a professional Nigerian footballer, who plays as a central midfielder for Super Eagle, said at the tournament that grassroots football, if properly handled, could give birth to numerous talented footballers in the future.
Haruna, who was part of the 23 man squad that represented Nigeria in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, thanked the Bet9ja Elephant Club, organiser of the league, for such grassroots tournament.
In his remarks, Razak Omotoyossi, a Nigerian-born Beninese Footballer, who plays as a striker for JA Cotonou and the Benin National Football Team, encouraged youths to take good advantage of the the yearly tournament.
Omotoyossi advised governments to put facilities in place to encourage more youths to participate in sporting activities in the country.
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