By Akeem Busari
All is set for the first edition of the Hon. Tajudeen Ajide U20 football championship in Lagos.
The competition which is expected to feature 12 youth teams drawn from across different parts of Lagos State, begins today,(Thursday), with screening of eligible players and draws for competition at the Hockey Pitch, National Stadium, Surulere.
In line with the organizers plans to hold a football championship that would produce genuine underaged and talented footballers, the screening of the players would be conducted by a combination of football administrators, coaches, and ex-internationals.
Among them are Hon.Tajudeen Ajide, an ex-footballer and current chairman of Surulere Local government, Dr. Francis Akinremi, the National President of Association of Proprietors of Football Academies of Nigeria (APFAN), the Technical Director of APFAN, Coach Solomon Adesina and ex-Flying Eagles defender Tajudeen Disu.
According to Dr Akinremi, the screening and draw will precede the tournament kicking off on Saturday.
He said of the screening exercise: “APFAN is strict on screening because we want to have a clean tournament where we can showcase real U20 players and where scouts can come and select good players.”
The participating teams are Puma Football Academy (FA), Talent Hunt Football Club (FC), Fakrem FA, D Pros FA, Sidab FA, Breakthrough FA, and Temson FA.
Others are FC Hertha, Stanley Global, Ify Babes FC, Glory Babes FA, and Banjoh FA.
Technical Director of APFAN, Coach Solomon Adesina, disclosed that the 12 teams will be in four groups of three teams each.
The top two teams in the groups will proceed to the quarter finals; while the winners of the games will move into the semi- finals that will produce the eventual finalists.
The grand finale of the championship bankrolled by Hon. Ajide and organized by Association of Proprietors of Football Academies of Nigeria (APFAN), will hold at the Legacy Pitch of the National Stadium on March 1, 2020.
Speaking on the championship, the sponsor, Hon. Ajide remarked that as a former footballer, he is committed in his personal capacity to return the glory days of football in Surulere.
“As an ex-player who grew up in Surulere, my first love was football and it remains my constituency. I want to bring back the glamour of football in Surulere and this championship is another way to catch talented youth players and help them realize their potentials,” Ajide, who was a hard as nails defender in his playing days enthused.