By Akeem Busari
The National Association of Nigerian Professional Footballers ( NANPF) has disclosed plans to relive the unforgettable memories of late Nigeria iconic footballers, Samuel Okwaraji and Rashidi Yekini by organising annual youth soccer tournaments to immortalise the soccer legends.
In a press statement signed by the President of NANPF, Tijani Babangida, MON, it stated that it has become imperative for the players’ union to bring back to life, the Samuel Okwaraji National Under 15 tournament which it organized in 2008 and 2009, before it was abandoned due circumstances beyond its controls under the auspices of the Association of Professional footballers of Nigeria ( APFON) which has transited to the present NANPF.
It recalled that the two editions of the tournament which was hosted and sponsored by Imo State Government lived up to its expectations. It was an event that was laced with other features such as the annual memorial lecture, held in Lagos and Owerri respectively, and a tour to the burial site of late Samuel Okwaraji at the family compound in Umudioka, Imo State by all the participating players and officials. The union further revealed that it had arrangements on ground to establish the Sam Okwaraji Football Foundation, with Dr Peter Singabele , former member of the NFF executive Committee as interem Chairman.
In related development, the statement revealed plans by the union to equally organize the first edition of the Rashidi Yekini National Under 16 tournament, as contained in the Union’s youth development calender for 2020. In a similar fashion as the Stephen Keshi National Under 17 and 21, tournaments, which would coast to its 3rd edition this year.
The statement further read that this year’s Sam Okwaraji, National tournament which is tagged, 3rd Sam Okwaraji National Under 15 Tournament and the First Rashidi Yekini National Under 16 tournaments, shall lay the foundation for the proposed ‘Nigeria Footballers Village’, in the South East and South West zones, to be named, ‘Sam Okwaraji Football and Vocational Training Centre (SOFVTC) and ‘Rashidi Yekini Football and Vocational Training Centre’ (RYFVTC) respectively, in the same model and fashion of the ” Stephen keshi football and Vocational Training Centre (SKFVTC), it added conclusively.