By Adekola Afolabi
Ondo State government said it will invest massively in the growth of the newly introduced American Football in the state.
The State Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Bamidele Ologunloluwa stated this on Friday while speaking with journalists during the third place match of the ongoing season two of the Nigerian American Football Association (NAFA) tournament tagged Aketi Bowl at the Akure Sports Complex.
While also thanking all the stakeholders for their immense contributions to the tournament, the Sports Commissioner equally lauded all the seven participating states for their comportment and resilience.
The seven states included FCT Abuja, Lagos, Ogun, Akwa Ibom, Osun, Oyo, and host Ondo State.
Meanwhile Ogun male team narrowly defeated team Ondo by 7-6 points to emerge winner of the third place match. This is the first time Ondo State will be participating in the game.
In the final match holding tomorrow Saturday, Akwa Ibom will confront the team from FCT Abuja in the male category while Lagos will tackle Ogun state in the female category at the Ondo State Sports Complex.
The Commissioner specially appreciated the state Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, the President of the Nigerian American Football Associates (NAFA), Babajide Akeredolu, for their necessary
supports and creating the platform for the talented young athletes to showcase their skills.
Ologunloluwa who also applauded the support of the executives of the NAFA and other major stakeholders assured readiness of the state government in procuring new equipments, appointment of coaches and other technical crew to train interested youths.
He expressed satisfaction with the tournament especially team Ondo for their performance as first timers, and thanked the organisers for making it a huge success.
According to him, the game has given the school children hope for a better future.
The NAFA Secretary General, Lawrence Ojaideh, who said he was pleased with the tournament, gave kudos to the State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, for giving the young athletes wings to fly.
He said the Saturday’s winner will receive Aketi Bowl Trophy.
“We are really satisfied with what we have seen . We can’t but say a big thank you to the host -Ondo State, and I want to thank Aketi himself. Today, we have Aketi Bowl one, next year we will be having Aketi Bowl two and this will remain the legacy of this sport as far as eternity is concerned. Aketi will forever live to be remembered. So, we want to thank Mr Governor for everything he has done.
“Today, the kids have hope for a better life. A lot of kids who have not sat down to think about their future, this event is giving them that moment to sit down and think about their future and see what they want to do.
“Some kids right now are already taking decisions of where they want to go in life, and this is because of what Mr Governor has done, we say thank you once again.
“So, the journey so far has been very wonderful. We started from Lagos State in Season one where Lagos State gave us their full support, and we thank the Governor of Lagos State and the government.
“This sport, American Football, I can tell you, in few years to come, will be one of the biggest in the country”, he said.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Mrs Foluke Daramola and the Chairman, Ondo State Sports Council, Henry Babatunde, among other stakeholders, described the outing as very wonderful, saying the players performed extremely well with high spirit of sportsmanship.
According to them, the children and indeed the entire country will benefit from it as it will impact positively on the country’s school children and the country at large.
They described it as another platform for the children to express their inherent talents.