The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare has played a host to the players and officials of the victorious U-17 boys, National Team, the Golden Eaglets for winning the West African Football Union WAFU B Championship Cup, held in Cape Coast, Ghana.
Mr. Dare who eulogized the team spirit of the players which he said culminated to the victory which has really made the country proud affirmed that, playing and winning for a country of over 200 million citizens is not a mean feat but a bust.
The Minister who reiterated the present administration’s commitment to youth and sports development in the country assured that government would continue to focus on grassroots sports with the view to ensuring positive results in the field of sports and to further build for the country formidable teams in all type of sports to represent our nation at International competitions.
He heaped plaudits on the leadership of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) for making merit and competence especially in its watchwords in selection of coaches for the age-grade National Teams, as agreed with the Ministry, which he said, has started to bear fruits with excellent performances at U20 and U17 levels of recent.
“You have set a high standard
and cannot lower it, Nigeria has won the trophy 4 times hopefully might win it again, all you need is to remain focus hard working and obedient to the coaches and avoid distraction”, he said.
He added further, “I want to give credit to the NFF for implementing the cardinal principles that we agreed at meetings on youth football development. Now, we can see that the emphasis on merit and competence has started to bear fruits. The U17 and U20 girls have qualified for their FIFA World Cup competitions with aplomb and the U17 and U20 boys have won regional tournaments in emphatic manner, with promises of what we can look forward to at their African championships next year.
“Our hard focus as a government on grassroots development in all sports will continue. I congratulate the players and their coaches of the Golden Eaglets for winning so convincingly in Ghana and I want to charge you to remain focused for the continental championship in order to get the ticket to the World Cup. For you players, you must stay humble, hardworking and obedient to your coaches”, he explained.
Earlier in his remarks, the Permanent Secretary Alhaji Ismaila Abubakar commended the players for writing the name of the country in gold in the continent.
He warned the players against allowing distractions from all manner of agents and player-managers, and rather be dedicated to improving their craft with temperance, endurance and a level head.
The Permanent Secretary also announced a cash reward of N2m (Two Million Naira) for the team owing to their exemplary performance at the tournament.
The Secretary General Nigeria Football Federation, Dr Mohammed Sanusi while presenting the players and the team to the Honourable Minister, Sunday Dare, stated that Head Coach Nduka Ugbade was the captain of the first Nigeria team to win the FIFA Cadet World Cup (CWP) and was also assistant coach to Manu Garba when Nigeria triumphed in the United Arab Emirates in 2013. “He is also a global consultant on football science”, he said.
Speaking on behalf of the team, the Head Coach Nduka Ugbade disclosed that football has gone scientific and their is therefore the need for early campaign as the team guns for its world cup ticket.
He described the reception as a special occasion and said the team is encouraged to do its utmost to continue to bring honour to the nation, “first by putting up a stellar outing at the U20 AFCON in Algeria and then going on to hold its own at the FIFA World Cup finals in Peru.”