By Obiako Chris Okechukwu
Football fans across the country trooped in large numbers to Nitel Sports Ground Oshodi, Lagos, to witness the best grassroots football could offer as Kick To Glory Talent Hunt took centre stage from August 3 – 6, 2018.
The event which was geared towards discovering talented players who abound in Nigeria was watched by prominent football stakeholders led by ex-Super Eagles players such as Daniel Amokachi, Taribo West, Peter Rufai, Joseph Dosu, Friday Elaho and Yisa Shofoluwe. Others were Mba Agbai, Festus Odini and Ndubuisi Ndah. The talent hunt, first of its kind in Nigeria, had scouts, agents and football club officials from France, Spain, Italy and Belgium in attendance. Prominent among the foreigners was Raffaele Martina from Barcelona, Spain. Their counterparts from Nigeria were not left out.
Chairman of FC Ifeanyi Ubah, Prince Chukwuma Ubah, and FIFA Licensed Agent, Ikechukwu Maduka, were part of the spectators. Sport researcher and industrialist, Amos Obiefuna, who flew in from the United States of America, was also in attendance. The event drew 20 football clubs from different parts of Nigeria including Premier League side, MFM FC Lagos, and their NNL counterparts, Ikorodu United FC of Lagos. Young Stars FC of Ghana was part of the teams that took part in the talent hunt. Renowned grassroots teams like Collins Edwin FC, Box 2 Box FC, Dosu Joseph FC, Dominion Hotspur FC etc., were also on parade.
The first and second days saw teams slugging it out to out-play each in ten explosive matches that brought out the best in the skilful and talented youngsters.
The highlight of day two was the match between Box 2 Box FC Lagos and Young Stars FC Of Ghana which rekindled the Ghana-Nigeria football rivalry. The match ended 2-1 in favour of the Nigerian side.
When selected players from the twenty participating teams filled out for the match that will enable scouts and agents make their final selection, fans were thrilled by the magical displays by the young footballers whose ages ranged from 15-23 years. At the end of the match, ex Super Eagles striker, Daniel Amokachi, was ecstatic. He gave kudos to the organisers of the talent hunt, and called on affiliates to borrow a leaf from Kick To Glory. “What I’ve seen these few days is simply amazing,’’ Amokachi, known as The Bull in his playing days, pointed out. “The players on display have been outstanding. They’re young. They’re hungry. They’re daring. They’re aggressive; the best crop of players I’ve seen in any talent hunt in this part of the globe. If only other organizations in the business of discovery of talents could emulate Kick To Glory, I’m sure out football will witness a glorious turn-around.’’
Another ex-Super Eagles stalwart, Taribo West, was equaled delighted with the vision and mission of those behind the talent hunt. He eulogised their foresight and thanked them for giving the young players the platform to showcase their God-given talent. “I came here hoping to watch good football, and I have not been disappointed with what I’ve seen so far,” the former Eagles defence ace emphasized. “That this country (Nigeria) have massive collection of talented players has never been in doubt, but the development aspect has always been the stumbling block. With what I’ve seen so far, Kick To Glory has bridged the gap. Now, we can beat our chests and say that the good old days of Nigeria football has returned for good.”
On the final day of the event, chief host and CEO of Kick To Glory, Friday Kujah was full of praises for those who graced the talent hunt.”I’m overwhelmed by the turn-out of clubs, scouts and agents who were part of this event,” Kujah said. “I’m excited at the enthusiasm shown by the mammoth crowd that trooped out to be part of this talent hunt. I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen so far, and will keep working hard to ensure that subsequent events surpass what we’ve witnessed in this four-day event.”