In his role as the APC 2023 senatorial candidate for Benue South, Comrade Daniel Onjeh emphasized the significance of sports as a vital catalyst for national unity and progress. This assertion was made during his address as the Special Guest of Honour at the highly anticipated grand finale of the inaugural Tawari Football Talent Hunt Competition, which took place yesterday at the Tawari School Football Pitch in Tawari Council Ward, Kogi Local Government Area of Kogi State.
Comrade Onjeh reiterated the transformative power of promoting and supporting sporting activities among the youth, highlighting its potential to mitigate social vices prevalent in society. As the former President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), he also called for the establishment of a dedicated funding mechanism for sports development in Nigeria. This mechanism would encourage corporate organizations to make regular contributions to a common fund aimed at financing sporting activities as part of their corporate social responsibility initiatives.
In a message of encouragement to the young players, Onjeh emphasized that the disparity between legendary figures like Messi, Ronaldo, and the budding football talents who participated in the competition solely lies in the platform they had in Argentina, Spain (Messi), and Portugal (Ronaldo) to nurture and showcase their abilities. He expressed optimism that President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Mandate would usher in a renaissance in the administration and management of sports in Nigeria. Comrade Onjeh also commended the organizers of the event for their commendable initiative.
The Tawari Football Talent Hunt Competition is a grassroots endeavor initiated by the Tawari Council Ward. The first edition of the competition commenced on May 2nd this year and featured ten teams during the preliminary stages. The highly anticipated final match was contested between Awyetulo Football Club, Orehi, and Shane Pillars, with Awyetulo Football Club emerging victorious with a scoreline of 1:0.
Hon. Kyauta Bawa, a Guest of Honour and native of the Tawari Council Ward, expressed his belief in the immense potential of the competition for the community’s youth. He emphasized that the event provides a unique platform for recognition and recruitment by local and international professional football scouts. He also hinted at the prospects of improved employment opportunities and career advancement within various military and paramilitary sports units for the participants.
Following the competition, 32 talented players were selected for an upcoming training camp scheduled to commence in the first week of August. The camp will take place at three different locations across the country, namely Abuja, Kaduna, and Bauchi. After the camp, the young players will embark on an eye-opening tour of Togo, Cotonou, and Accra to further enhance their exposure.
In recognition of their outstanding performance, the winners of the competition received a cash prize of one hundred thousand Naira, while the runners-up were awarded fifty thousand Naira. The organizers expressed their commitment to making the Tawari Football Talent Hunt Competition an annual event. They are planning the second edition specifically catered to younger talents below the age of 15, who fall into the primary and secondary school category.
The event was graced by Brig. Gen. Stephen Bawa (Rtd) as the Chief Host, alongside other distinguished dignitaries, including the Vice Chairman of Kogi LGA, Hon. Hassana Jezhi Bako, and the Deputy Chairman of the Kogi State Chapter of the APC, Hon. Abdulrahman Akabu.