BY CHINWE EDOGA
Like a mustard seed that grows into a big oak, the Channels Kid Cup which is in its ninth edition is going international.
The novel grass root project which had a humble beginning as a competition for primary schools in Lagos State gradually expanded to become a national competition now endorsed by the Nigeria Football Federation.
The growth did not stop there. According to a media release sent to Sports Village Square, the organizing committee of the Channels Kids Cup has confirmed readiness for the first international edition of the grassroots football tournament.
“This is the ninth edition of the competition and the first in its international series after schools from Ghana and Benin Republic confirmed availability to compete with fourteen schools chosen from the six geo-political zones in Nigeria.
“The competition is for pupils in primary school under the ages of thirteen and operates with a philosophy of zero tolerance to age cheat.
“The tournament has a strict screening policy and the process is repeated on match days to ensure schools comply to the rules and regulations of the tournament” the press release signed by Austin Okon-Akpan, head of Sports Department of Channels Television, read.
According to the chairman of the organizing committee, Steve Judo, this year’s edition has a major objective of promoting football at the grassroots.
”It goes beyond playing football. We are teaching these kids the core values that will make them good sportsmen and also making them understand the essence of combining education and sports from an early age”.
The Channels Kids Cup has also been endorsed by the Nigeria Football Federation. 1st vice chairman of the federation, Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi, who also doubles as the Chairman of the Youth development committee described the competition as a model for football development in the country.
”Every year, the Channels Kids Cup keeps getting better and the NFF will continue to support the project the best way we can. It is a laudable platform to discover and nurture future champions. We should monitor it closely”. Akinwunmi concluded.
Some players from the Channels Kids Cup are already having promising football careers. The 2013 most valuable player, Million Koma is now a player of Enugu Rangers and emerged the highest goal scorer at the recently concluded NPFL U-15 promises tournament.
Simon Akpomedaye also featured in the 2013 edition with the Ogedengbe Primary School from Delta. After the tournament, he has featured for the National U-17 team, the Golden Eaglets and currently plays for Warri Wolves.
In 2015, St. Paul’s Anglican’s Afolabi Yusuf dazzled at the Lagos Preliminaries and was awarded scholarship to play football and further his education. The Channels Kids Cup is already a winning brand.
Schools will start arriving in Lagos for season nine of the competition from Saturday, May 20th 2017. The draw ceremony and unveiling of jerseys will be done on Sunday, May 21st while action will commence on Monday, at the Teslim Balogun Stadium. The final game will be played on Children’s day, May 27.
The following schools that will compete at this year’s edition.
(1) Niger State – Waziri Primary School, Minna
(2) Kwara State – Burhanudeen LGEA Primary School, Ojagboro, Ilorin
(3) Sokoto State – Turaki Model Primary School, Sokoto
(4) Ekiti State – St Augustine’s Catholic Nursery & Primary School, Osun Ekiti
(5) Edo State – Paragon Demonstration School, Benin City
(6) Rivers State – World Book Capital City Model Primary School, Port Harcourt
(7) Abia State – City Primary School Umuahia, Abia State
(8) Imo State – Community School, Ezima Obaire, Imo State
(9) Ogun State – African Church Primary School, Onibuku, Ado Odo Ota
(10) Osun State – Islamic Government School, Modakeke, Osun State
(11) Kaduna State – LGEA Jaafaru Primary School, Kaduna
(12) Kogi State – Islamiya LGEA School Kabawa, Lokoja
(13) Lagos 1 – Xplanter Primary School, Ikorodu
(14) Lagos 2 – Community Primary School, Abule Egba
(15) Ghana – Abeka 4 Basic School, New Fadama Accra
(16) Benin Republic – Saint Louis de Seme Krake