- The Church Supports Youth Sports Options to Serving Humanity-Bishop Ezeokafor
- Awka Catholic Diocese Empowers Talented Footballers to Europe
By Princess Chinecherem Efobi, Fr Obinna Dike, Ebuka Egbewuike
The Catholic Diocese of Awka has taken yet another giant step in sports promotion, by sponsoring an international football scouting programme in Abuja through her sports department DOSAD, in partnership with The Marketing Heaven, in charge of promoting activities on social media, Diamond Sports Management (DSM) in the UK and Kings Football Management (KFM). The event held May 7-11, 2019, at the National Stadium Package B Goal Project Astro Turf Football field, Abuja.
The Director of DSM, Mr Cem Sagar, brought in eight other top notch Club Directors, scouts and agents from Europe, in addition to three local agents to the programme. In all, twelve teams drawn from the very best football Academies and teams participated in the tournament.
Prior to the games proper in Abuja, the directors of KFM, Messers David Amanyi and Bobby Chumtan, in conjunction with her tournament partner Fr Obinna Dike of DOSAD Sports, had gone to the various football regions in Nigeria, to organize a pre-tournament to select the best players to form a team from the designated regions. The selected players formed the final teams that came to the Abuja tournament. DOSAD Football Academy Awka Diocese formed the crux of the players from the South East that graced the event as host team.
The other teams that participated in the scouting programme included; Daka FC, Umma Hassan FA, Kings FC, Ikon Allah FA, Waco Academy and Greater Tomorrow FC. Others were; Taraba Jets, FC Hearts, Ovaism FC, Abuja Selected Team and All Stars FC. Each team had eighteen players in their line ups.
Addressing the players and officials on the opening day of hostilities May 7 in Abuja, DSM Director Cem, urged the players to show that they are at the level to play professional football in Europe. He said he keeps bringing football scouts and Directors to Nigeria, because Nigeria has got amazing football talents. “If I don’t believe in Nigeria, we will not be coming here every year. We need football talents with good attitude to play top football in Europe or elsewhere. In our company, the player’s boarding pass to Europe football is his talent.
The 5-day events produced two finalists from each group. DOSAD Football Academy Enugwu Ukwu, Awka Diocese topped group A with a win and two draws, as well as the highest goal scoring side with eight goals. WACO Academy of Abuja emerged group B leaders with three straight wins. WACO went on to win the tournament by defeating DOSAD FA by three goals to nil in the finals Saturday May 11.
The award session had Rossi Israel of Taraba jets winning the tournament Most Valuable Player, while Okeke John Chi of DOSAD Football Academy, emerged the Player of the Tournament in a unanimous decision from the nine foreign and three local scouts, directors and agents. The Catholic Diocese of Awka through DOSAD, tagged the Tournament Sponsor, received a special commendation award from DSM/KFM for Youth/Community sports development initiatives. The DOSAD Sports Director, Rev Fr Obinna Dike, received the award on behalf of Bishop Paulinus Ezeokafor, the bishop of Awka Diocese, who is also the proprietor of DOSAD Sports.
The Directors and scouts selected twenty players as talented. After a series of test matches involving the select players, six players got direct contract to play in Europe. Two of the six will leave this summer as they have crossed eighteen years. Three will follow suits between three to eight months depending on the variables of their age to eighteen. The youngest is being sent to study and train till adult age. Some other players in the designated twenty three are billed to travel for further trials abroad this summer.
The six players for immediate Europe contracts included; Nathaniel Nicholas of Daka FC, Victor Ochai of Ikon Allah FC and Daniel Wotlai of WACO FC. Others were, Rossi Israel of Taraba Jets, Okeke John Chi of DOSAD Football Academy, and Daniel Daniel of FC Hearts.
Speaking to the Press after receiving the sponsorship award on behalf of Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, the DOSAD Director, Rev Fr Obinna Dike applauded Bishop Ezeokafor for being a visionary cleric in trusting and investing in the youths. Fr Dike said that the bishop not only saw it wise to create a sports apostolate in Awka Diocese, but equally sent him (Fr Obinna)to get the requisite professional knowledge for such ministry. Fr Dike said such tasking investment in the Abuja tournament returns the money invested, but most importantly, it sets the youths on the path to emancipation and nation building, irrespective of any social, religious and even economic barrier. He extolled Awka Diocese for always taking the lead in discovering new ways of taking the gospel-in-action to the public square. Fr Dike also commended DOSAD DSM/KFM partners for their result oriented programmes since 2018 in Nigeria.
Fr Dike presented the sponsorship award to Bishop Ezeokafor at his Okpuno residence on Thursday May 16, 2019.
Also, Okeke John who was the player of the Abuja tournament presented his plaque to the bishop. Receiving the awards, Ezeokafor said Awka diocese does not play with young people. So, when Fr Obinna who has been working with DSM group presented the outlay for the tournament, Awka diocese decided to strain itself by committing hard resources to further promote DOSAD sports apostolate and youth empowerment. He advised John Okeke who is due to Europe soon to be of good character, patient, humble, hardworking and prayerful. He said these ingredients would make him and others travelling to be football models in a few years, which will also set good examples to other Nigerian youths.
“If you are well behaved, God’s blessings will work through you as light to your family, the Church and humanity at large” the bishop said. He commended DOSAD Director Fr Obinna Dike for gradually but assiduously making the sports apostolate both interesting and engaging.
The next edition of the scouting programme comes up this July and still open to sponsors.