The Nigeria Football Federation and financial giants, Zenith Bank PLC, have expressed confidence that more future stars will emerge as the second edition of NFF/Zenith Bank U-13/U-15 Future Eagles Stars Championship takes centre stage.
At a press conference held in Lagos on Wednesday to herald the competition, Zenith Bank’s Head of Digital Marketing, Mr. Pascal Or, who was representing the Group Managing Director of the bank, Peter Amangbo, said the institution was delighted to be part of the initiative to empower the youths of the country and was confident future Super Eagles players would emerge through the competition.
He said: “When a good idea is thoroughly packaged, you know from the onset that it will be successful. The NFF has done brilliantly well with the way they handled the first edition and the plans they have unveiled for the second championship.
“My challenge goes to other organisations to get involved in forms of youth development. The youth is the heart and soul of every nation and they should be happy.
“Zenith Bank is keen to continue to support and be identified with this programme especially because sports development is a key area in our social responsibility role in the country.”
NFF’s 1st Vice President/Chairman of Youth Football Committee, Seyi Akinwunmi, said that calls had gone out for entries from the states for the second edition, with September 10 set as deadline for entries, and the zonal finals will take place between September 13 and 16.
“The group stage matches/final of U-13/semi finals of U-15 will come up in Kano 20th -23rd September, while the final of the U-15 will come up on a date to be agreed with the sponsors, and will also have the Future Eagles play against a top academy as curtain raiser,” he said.
“The NFF as an institution remains very grateful to Zenith Bank for this partnership, which has enabled us to give fillip to our vision of youth football development. The first edition produced players who formed our U-15 National Team (Future Eagles) that recently impressed in a two –match tour of Morocco against the Morocco U-15 squad.
“For this second edition, we have planned for it to be much bigger, and we have the support of Zenith Bank. We are committed to sustaining the credibility and integrity of the championship through thorough screening that will take several stages and dimensions, and we also want to breed the next generation of Nigerian referees by using very young referees.”
Akinwunmi, also the Chairman of NFF Football Committee, revealed that his committee would insist on coaches who have a minimum of CAF C License to handle the teams, making case for young, agile, educated and certificated trainers to grow the future stars.
“I can assure you that this is one project that the entire NFF Board is passionate about. It is about building good, diligent and wonderful people who are proud to be Nigerians,” he said.