#Sports

NSSFFL: Season 2 kicks off in Akure with 75 Secondary schools from seven states

By Adekola Afolabi

No fewer than 75 secondary schools across the country are participating in the Season 2 of the Nigeria Secondary School Flag Football League (NSSFFL) competition currently going on in Akure, the Ondo State capital, with 6 of 36 teams getting into the final stage.

The tournament tagged, “the Aketi Bowl”, was named after the pioneer chairman and Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, with participants drawing from seven states across the country.

Speaking at the opening of Season 2 at Akure Township Stadium, Akure, the President, Nigerian American Football Association (NAFA), Babajide Akeredolu, said Akure will be hosting the Season 2 between July 31 to August 5, after Season one was hosted by Lagos State.

He explained that the association was determined to provide a viable platform for Nigerian youths to utilise American football for both personal and national development.

The President added that the vision goes beyond sports, and that the competition was meant for students in secondary schools (High School) between the ages of 12-18.

Akeredolu who was represented by NAFA Secretary, Lawrence Ojaideh, listed the seven states participating in the preliminaries to include Ondo, Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Osun, Akwa Ibom and Abuja.

The event was attended by some members of the State Executive Council including the Head of Service, Pastor Kayode Ogundele.

He said, “this season witnessed the active involvement of 75 secondary schools from these states, with over 2,000 student athletes competing”.

“Our decision to name the tournament after our pioneer chairman, the
Governor of Ondo State is very deliberate. We owe our meteoric growth
over the last two years to his unwavering support to our organization and
having resolved to immortalize him, we shall continue to build on his impact
and legacy.

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“This tournament, the second of many to come, marks yet another
significant step in the growth of American football in Nigeria, and I couldn’t be prouder of the strides we have made as an organisation in this
exhilarating sport. Last year, at the opening ceremony of the Lagos tournament, I mentioned
our plans to bring more states onboard for the second season of the
Nigerian Secondary School Flag Football league.

“Today, I am thrilled to
announce that this vision has become a reality, and the Aketi Bowl is
happening with the involvement of 6 new states and over 36 teams all of
whom will be touching down in Akure in the Sunshine State for a week of
intense competition. We welcome all players and staff from Ogun, Osun,
Oyo, Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Abuja and Ondo State.

“Our organization was conceptualized in 2019 with mission to the game of American football in Nigeria. We were officially registered as an organization in 2020 and decided to focus on three core pillars; Awareness, Capacity Building and sport development. On the area of awareness, we have taken the sport of American football from majorly 3
locations; Lagos, Abuja and Zaria and grown it to 10 states.

“Our reach extends to over 10,000 actively participating athletes and over 30,000 spectators. On the area of capacity building, our efforts have yielded remarkable results, with a breakdown of field officials trained as follows: 55 in 2020, 200 in 2021, and an impressive 700 in 2022, culminating in a total of 955 skilled and empowered individuals. Sports development has been made possible through our pioneer league the NSSFFL and our planned
collegiate and semi professional leagues.

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“The Nigerian American Football Association (NAFA) has tirelessly strived to fulfill its mission of creating more opportunities through the game of
American football. Guided by our unwavering commitment to the HUDDLE
way mantra – Health, Unity, Diversity, Development, Livelihood, and
Entertainment – we continue to make transformative changes in the lives of
our youth.

“Our dedication to changing lives has yielded incredible results. Last year,
141 of our athletes were awarded scholarships at Global Wealth University
in Togo, with many already enrolled and excelling academically and
athletically”, the President stressed.

Also speaking, the Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Bamidele Ologunloluwa, charged parents and guardians to encourage their wards to be part of the sports.

He particularly applauded the state Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, for his huge investment in sports, describing sports as a unifier and one of the ways to curb social vices.

There were goodwill messages from Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Pastor Femi Agagu; President, NSSFF, Mrs Olabisi Joseph, among other stakeholders.

Highlights of the tournament were March Past and flag parade.

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