Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, CON, has reiterated his administration’s dedication to utilising sports as a platform for youth growth, learning, and lasting connections.
Speaking at the finals of Season 2 of the Nigerian Secondary School Flag Football League (NSSFF) competition, tagged “Aketi Bowl,” held at the Akure Stadium over the weekend, Governor Akeredolu emphasised the importance of sports in nurturing the potential of the younger generation.
The Governor was represented at the event by the Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Bamidele Ologunloluwa.
Members of the State Executive Council also attended the event, including the Secretary to the State Government, Princess Oladunni Odu; Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Wale Akinterinwa; Special Adviser to the Governor on Union Matters and Special Duties, Mr. Dare Aragbaiye; and Special Adviser to the Governor on Rural and Community Development, Hon. Kolawole Babatunde.
In the female category, Team Ogun secured victory by defeating Team Lagos with a score of 12-0 points. Meanwhile, in the male category, Team Akwa Ibom emerged triumphant by overwhelming Team FCT Abuja with a score of 31-6 points.
The champions in both the male and female categories were awarded the prestigious Aketi Bowl Trophy, along with a cash prize of N1,000,000 each. Runners-up received N500,000, each while the third-place teams were honored with a cash prize of N150,000 along with medals.
Governor Akeredolu congratulated the champions on their outstanding achievement, saying their hard work, resilience, perseverance and determination paid off.
He noted that they truly deserve the trophies that come with the victory, urging them to see the success as a springboard for even greater accomplishments in the future.
“This tournament has taught them the value of teamwork, sportsmanship and fair play. These lessons extend far beyond the boundaries of the flagball pitch and will undoubtedly affect their lives positively.
“Throughout this tournament, we witnessed thrilling matches, breathtaking displays of skill, resilience and teamwork. The passion and determination displayed by each and every player on the field was nothing short of admiration.
“You have pushed yourselves to the limit, overcoming challenges, and embracing the spirit of healthy competition. These efforts have made the tournament an unforgettable experience for all”, the Governor added.
He equally appreciated the Coaches for their unwavering support, guidance and mentorship, saying they have not only taught the young athletes the intricacies of the game but also instilled in them the values of discipline, perseverance and respect.
Arakunrin Akeredolu thanked all the stakeholders for making the event a reality, just as he urged all to carry the spirit of the tournament with them, both on and off the field.
“Let us continue to promote the values of sportsmanship, unity and camaraderie. American football is not just a game; it is a powerful tool for personal growth, character development and fostering strong communities”. He noted
Earlier, the President, Nigerian American Football Association (NAFA), Babajide Akeredolu, appreciated all for their immeasurable contributions to the resounding success of the tournament.
He stressed that NAFA was conceptualised with a mission to create increased opportunities for the youth through the game of American Football.
“In the last couple of days we have witnessed the budding fruits of that mission as we gathered in Akure, witnessing the extraordinary talents of young athletes from across Nigeria.
“I am proud to say that NAFA’s dedication to transforming lives through sports is evident in the countless success stories that have emerged from our programs and this tournament will not be any different.
“We have recorded scholarships awarded to deserving athletes, field officials have gone through various trainings and are now skilled and empowered.
“We have seen the profound impact that American Football can have on individuals and communities, and I dare say it will keep getting better and better because we as an organisation in conjunction with our partners and relevant stakeholders are ever committed to our mantra- the HUDDLE way – which stands for Health, Unity, Diversity, Development, Livelihood, and Entertainment. We will not relent in our efforts to continually make transformative changes in the lives of our youth.
“Our journey has just begun, and we have grand plans. We envision the establishment of university leagues, the formation of national teams, and stronger partnerships with other American Football organizations both locally and globally”, Babajide explained.
He urged all to carry the spirit of sportsmanship, unity, and the determination that they have witnessed throughout the tournament beyond the Aketi Bowl.
NSSFF President, Mrs Olabisi Joseph, described the tournament as another opportunity to positively engage the school boys and girls, adding that the main objective of the NSSFF is to ensure that they give every child a remarkable sports experience while they are in school.
She appreciated the state Governor Akeredolu for the successful hosting of the tournament, noting that education is not complete without sports
The Executive Chairman, Lagos State Sports Commission, Olusola Aiyepekun, who represented Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, commended Governor Akeredolu for encouraging sports development in the state, adding that Nigerian American Flag Football has become veritable sport for Nigerian talents to make impact globally.
The Special Guest of Honour and Vice Chancellor, Global Wealth University, Prof Christopher Imumolen, said sports and education must go together to properly nurture and mentor the young athletes to achieve greatness.