By Akeem Busari
Ekiti State Football Association has released a summarized report on the formation and up-to-date performances of its cadet football teams namely, Ekiti Bees (U15) and Baby Bees (U13), who were born out of the Bayo Olanlege’s led Ekiti FA board determination to evolve a lasting football legacy in the state.
The establishment of these cadet teams was historic in the annals of the state football. However, bigger history was recorded as over 30 starry eyed kids were provided a life time opportunity to travel out of Ekiti state and mingle and compete favourably with kids from other parts of Nigeria, at the Jos Chillin Invitational football tournament.
Over thirty players were invited for each of the U13 and U15 categories. And they were put through their paces for a week by coaches led by the highly rated youthful coach Idris Bolarinwa. At the end of intensive screening and friendly games,15 players each were selected for both categories.
The progress report further stated that 8am on the bright morning of Saturday, the 12th of December, the excited players and their officials took off from the FA boss’ office in Ado Ekiti. And the message was for the contingent to be exposed to a well organized competitive football and inculcate all round excellence in children in the state.
The performances of the cadet teams left football fans and administrators drooling excitedly over the raw, but impressive football skills of the young lads during and after the tournament in the Tin City.
Whilst the Ekiti Bees couldn’t make it beyond the group stages, Ekiti Baby Bees capped a wonderful outing by claiming the third place with a 6-3 win over Jazzy Stars Football Club of Jos.
The highlights of the Ekiti cadet teams outing was their impressive off the field activities. The organization of the teams, discipline, coordination, colourful jerseys, the conviviality of the players and officials, made the Ekiti representatives the cynosure of all eyes at the tournament.
Coaches of the national U13 and U15 sides were also on ground to scout for talented footballers for their teams. Seven cadet players were selected. Namely, Olamilekan Olatunji, Olakunle Bamisaye who emerged highest scorer at the U13 category with 4 goals; Victor Faturoti, who also
scored four goals and with two assists; Peter Abiodun, Odunayo Oluwaseun, Hakeem Bashiru and Olamilekan Hassan. While the duo of Toheeb Olasunkanmi and Timilehin Solomon made the BEST 11 for the U13 category of the Jos Chillin Invitational tournament.
The players and officials of the cadet teams expressed their profound appreciation to the FA for the opportunity to attend the tournament. However, it was not a smooth sailing and hitches free ride to the tournament.
Ekiti FA boss, Bayo Olanlege, was quick to thank and appreciate well spirited and organisations that donated the sum of N316,000, while the Ekiti State football Association contributed #839,000 from the NFF FIFA COVID19 relief fund to fund the contingents to the Jos Chillin Invitational.
He admonished the state government to provide financial assistance to the state FA, adding that paucity of funds have militated against some of the FA’s developmental plans, as well as, its desires to develop a sustainable football ecosystem in Ekiti State.