By Ben Nwachukwu
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State has taken the challenge of reviving the football culture in the state by throwing his weight behind the return of Insurance football Club of Benin to the Nigerian Professional football league next season.
The State FA chairman Frank Illaboya who made this disclosure in Abuja Monday, said the Obaseki was not leaving any stone unturned in his desire bring the State back to where it naturally belonged to in the map of sports in general and football in particular. He said the Obaseki administration and sports loving people of Edo State were stunned by the inability of the State’s darling club to return to the country’s elite league after starting very well in the second tier league in the recently concluded season.
“Insurance FC started very well in concluded season and we thought they would gain promotion but unfortunately they did not. That is football for you. It is not one plus one. Nonetheless, our football loving governor has given his word that his administration will relaunch the state to its football vibes.” Illaboya, a veteran journalist disclosed that the state government had embarked on reorganisation in the club to prepare it for the incoming season adding that the exercise has given the numerous fans and supporters of the club hope that their darling club will definitely return to the elite league.
He argued that the State was the hub of football in the country adding that the present administration is stopping at nothing in its bid to revive the football culture in the state and that has led to a holistic change in sports in the State.
The Edo State FA chairman noted that the association recorded tremendous high mark in it’s grassroots programme that saw it produce three clubs that gained promotion to various leagues except the elite league. He noted that his administration worked hard to bring money into the state league which made it possible for the clubs to take home monetary rewards at the end of the season and this effort was recognised and accorded a place of honour at the NFF Congress.
Illaboya also disclosed that the state government and the good people of Edo were eagerly looking forward to the reverse leg of the Falconets FIFA World Cup qualifier against the Morocco national women U21 at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City. He maintained that Benin was the home of female football and assured Nigerians that everything needed to be put in place for a successful hosting of the game will be put in place before the game.
“We successfully hosted the qualifier game against Tanzania and also the Super Four of the Women’s Football League. We are ever ready to host not only the women football league but other football related programmes,” he said.