By Kasarachi Azuka, Asaba
Delta State and it’s partner, Zenith Bank are planning to extent sports competitions from secondary schools to primary schools.
What that means is that besides the Principals’ Cup football tournament holding annually for secondary schools students, pupils in primary schools would begin to embrace sports as the Headmasters’ Cup version of the competition is about to be introduced in the schools, to fish out budding talents.
The sponsor, Zenith Bank has already expressed it’s commitment to the sponsorship of the tournaments in exercise of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the state.
The bank’s commitment in the past four years when the Principals’ Cup tournament was resuscitated, has really ignited zeal in sports among secondary school students as they eagerly look forward to exercising their strength and as well showcase their skills and talents in football competition where winners go home with mouth-watering prizes.
Tagged the 2019/2020 edition of the Zenith Bank Delta Principals’ Cup Football Competition, the tournament which kicked off September 30 this year, saw 612 public and private secondary schools in the state registering to participate in the competition which it’s preliminary matches took place at the LGAs after which quarter-finals and semi-final matches moved to the zones.
Thursday, November 28, the third place match and final match took place at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, where four secondary schools and two students went home with their prizes having emerged victorious at the competition.
College of Commerce, Warri emerged the champion to lift the football trophy, N1 million and an 18-Seater Bus, after defeating it’s opponent, Zappa Mixed Secondary School, Asaba with 2-1.
Zippa Mixed Secondary School, Asaba was presented with a cheque of N500,000 for emerging 2nd place winner.
Destiny Secondary School, Ughelli which won third place final was presented with a cheque of N300,000 while Okotie-Eboh, Sapele that emerged third place winner got cheque of N100,000.
The best goal scorer and most valuable player, Eme Ekemeni of College of Commerce, Warri, was noted for scoring a total of eight goals and was given a laptop and a total of N500,000 while David Orido from same college was presented with cheque of N200,000 having emerged Best Goal Keeper.
Speaking at the closing ceremony held at Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, the state Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, said that the most important thing was that through the competition, budding talents would be discovered and developed.
He expressed happiness at the level of competition this year and called on well endowed Deltans to assist in developing the economy of the state through sponsorship of sports in the state. The more we support our children, the better for our state, he averred.
Okowa who observed that the state has done well in sports nationally, traced the success to the initiatives of the governor of defunct Bendel State, late Samuel Ogbemudia who he said pioneered the concept of catching athlethes young and developed through regular competitions.
The exploits of the likes of Jay Jay Okocha and Stephen Keshi amongst others, as well as the winning champions in sports in the recent times seemed to justify the governor’s position on Delta’s greatness in sports
Okowa commended Zenith Bank for sustained sponsorship of the tournament, ” It is gladening to note that we have kept hope alive, and partnering Zenith Bank, this competition has entered for fourth edition which I must truly pay tribute to the management of Zenith Bank for consistently funding the competition.
“We started it four years ago and it is a beautiful thing that most schools are participating in the tournament; we have progressed as we have the Headmasters’ Cup and others involving various categories of athletes.
Okowa appreciated the reinventing of the competition which was initiated by late Ogbemudia, “During the time of late Samuel Ogbemudia’s as the Governor of Bendel State, we were made to understand that we can use our physical strength to develop our talents in the educational sector.
It is on record that 612 schools participated in this edition of the tournament from the beginning and it is my hope that every secondary school in our state will participate in the competition as you can imagine the level of excitement in those schools that participated and the raw talents that we have discovered in this tournament, he said.
He disclosed that the state was looking forward to the bank taking over the sponsorship of the Headmasters’ Cup even as it promised to continue to encourage well to do Deltans to sponsor events and partner with the state as government could not do everything alone. We need to collaborate in making life more beautiful for our people, he noted.
“We have made a promise that the winner of the tournament will go home with a bus and a bus is available but the most important thing is that we are able to catch them young and develop their talents.
“As we go into the future, we nurture the talents to remain at the top in any sporting competition organized in the country. I am happy with the quality of football I’m seeing this evening.
Zenith Bank’s Executive Director, Henry Okoh on behalf of the Group Managing Director, Ebenezer Oyegwu, assured that the bank would continue to be part of the tournament as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and thanked Okowa for his passion in the development of sports.
“We are glad to be the sole sponsors of this tournament and we will be glad to do same next year. We believe in the power of the youth for next generation – to developing and grow the youth to be useful to the society” he said, adding that the bank sponsors and tutors the youths by bringing them out of social vices to become academia.
Patrick Ukah, the state’s commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, had in his address, said that 612 Secondary Schools across the state took part at the LGA preliminary stage of the championship where a huge number trimmed down to 25 with each LGA producing a winner that began the quest for honour at zonal stage of the competition.
He said that the number, as expected further reduced to eight to battle at the Quarter-final stage from where four proceeded to semi-final.
While winners at the semi-final stage are here today to trade tackle for the ultimate and coveted grand prize, the losers at that stage are also here today, and completed for the third place final, he said.
Groups of dancers and choreographers from the secondary schools added colour to the event as they also showcased their Godgiven skills and talents to entertain all present at the closing ceremony of the championship event before the prizes were given out to the winners.
Many who watched their dancing and choreographic displays, concluded that there are indeed great talents to be discovered from the schools. Moreso, catching them young right from primary (basic) schools.