By Femi Atolagbe
About eight teams will represent seven states in the Nigeria Secondary School Flag Football season two at the Ondo State.
The seven states include: Ondo, Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Abuja, Akwa Ibom, and Osun States,that will compete for honour at the season two of the National Tournament billed to last for six days of pure passion and energy.
The president of Nigerian American Football Association (NAFA), Babajide Akeredolu, in a press briefing ahead of the kick of the league in Akure,the state capital, said the association was determined to provide a viable platform for Nigerian youths to utilize American football for both personal and national development.
He added that, passionate individuals came together to create NAFA and sought to elevate the standard of the sport in Nigeria with the ultimate goal of seeing it ranked high among other prominent sports in the country.
Akeredolu, represented by NAFA Secretary, Lawrence Ojaideh, said the vision goes beyond the sport itself.
He said that it was aiming to provide educational scholarships, livelihood opportunities, exposure and integration of diverse cultures.
According to him, “drawing from our collective experience of playing the sport as a recreational activity abroad and back in Nigeria, we envisioned a future where American football would flourish and create transformative opportunities for the nation.”
“Since its inception, NAFA has seen remarkable growth, with American football rapidly gaining presence across Nigeria, and we are looking to increase the number of our actively participating states in the nearest future.”
“American football is renowned for its challenging nature, especially when played outside the confines of an organized game, and it comes in two distinctive variants – tackle football and flag football.”
“Tackle football, often considered the most difficult, involves physically tackling opposing players with a high barrier for entry stemming from the need for expensive equipment.”
“On the other hand, flag football offers a less physical approach, where tackles are replaced by pulling of flags attached to the ball carrier’s waist to stop their progress”.
“Both variants require exceptional skills, strategy, and teamwork, but flag football is the recommended version for athletes who are just being introduced to the game.”
“This year’s national tournament is christened – AKETI BOWL in honor of our Chairman, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu. A visionary leader whose firm support has been the driving force behind this and many remarkable achievements the NSSFFL and NAFA, in general, have experienced.
According to him, the name Aketi Bowl signifies a symbol of excellence, conviction and determination in driving in the growth of American football in Nigeria.
Ondo State Commissioner for youth and Sports Development, Mr Bamidele Ologunloluwa thanked the Nigerian American Football Association (NAFA) for bringing the competition to the state.
Ologunloluwa said Ondo State joyfully embraced the NSSFFL league, saying sports remain the best way to unify the youths.
He urged parents and guardians to encourage their wards to be present at the opening ceremony of the league schedule for the stats sports complex in Akure .
His words: “Ondo state is always ready to embrace sports’ development that will have direct impact on the state.”
The General Manager of Ondo State Sports Council, Mr Henry Babatunde added that the second edition of the American Football will bring a lot of development to the youths, calling on parents, Principals of secondary schools to allow their children participate.
“When we have national events like this, I am always happy because it’s always an avenue of exposure for our youths”.