Ahead of preparations for the much talked about Ijaw/Itsekiri Peace and Unity Cup Tournament 2019, otherwise known as Comrade Sheriff Mulade Peace and Unity Cup is ongoing and in top gear.
Unlike the first edition which was held in 2017, this year’s edition will have a new dimension as two centers will host the competition namely Ugborodo and Benikrukru communities both in Warri South-west Local Government Area. Sixteen teams are expected to feature and battle for honours in the tournament, eight in each center as forms are already on sale in various locations as well as the office of Center for peace and environmental justice Ugolo which serves as the temporary secretariat of the Local organising Committee.
Also the winner of the tournament will go home with whopping cash prize of One million Naira (N1m) and Gold Cup. While the runners up will receive Seven Hundred Thousand Naira (N700,000) and 3rd placed team Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500,000). There are also other prizes and awards for most valuable player, highest goal scorer, fair play award for best behaved team and best goal keeper among others.
Meanwhile in a recent meeting held by the LOC, the Chairman, Hon. Kenneth Nwaomucha emphasized that this year’s edition will be focused on discovering talented youths who are between 15 and 20 years of age which is an ideal age limit for grassroots competition. He advised the coordinators of the two centers to inform the various teams before registration.
He added that the technical committee with other technical experts will be on ground to do exponent screening of each team before commencement. He explained further that the above exercise will help to produce the real age grade players who can be taken to the national league and premier league clubs and they will do well because they have age on their side.
In another development, the organizers are intending to showcase ex-International footballers who will play against a selected side during the opening and closing ceremonies to serve as a moral booster to the various youths participating in the prize.
The 2017 edition had ex-Internationals like Kenneth Nwaomucha, Edema Fuludu (MON), Baldwin Bazuaye (MON), Former Super Eagles Coach Austin Eguavoen ( MON) who attended the finals though they only participated in penalty shoot out against dignitaries like the Deputy Governor of Delta state Barrister Kingsley Otuaro, Hon Daniel Reyeinaju, former member representing Warri federal constituency, former Chairman Warri South-West LGA, Hon. George Ekpemukpolo, Hon. David Tonwe, former Chairman of renowned Ufuoma babes f c. Elder Eddington Kuejubola, Former Delta South senatorial district PDP Chairman and now Delta state Commissioner for Oil and Gas, Hon. Prince Emman Amgbaduba and others.
This year’s edition promises to be profit yielding as scouts and football agents from across Nigeria and Europe have already signified their interest to be on ground to spot talented players which will go a long way to raise the marketability of the yearly tournament. One of such organizations is African Grassroots Football Development with links in Cyprus, Italy and Spain, has confirmed itsinterest to partner with the Organizers more so with Comrade Sheriff Mulade who was recently appointed as the 2nd National Vice President of the grassroots football body in Nigeria.
The 2017 edition which produced some talents saw Tebujoh Fc. carting home the Gold cup and and a cash prize of Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500,000) while Krutie Fc. Who were runners-up went home with Three Hundred Thousand Naira (N300,000) and third placed Kokodiagbene Fc. Smiled home with Two Hundred Thousand Naira (N200,000).
It will be recalled that the tournament was initiated with the aim of encouraging and sustaining the existing peace and unity that has been attained by the Ijaws and Itsekiris over the past years. The tournament is expected to kick of in November 2019.