By Toyin Saheed
Following the introduction of youth teams for players aged 15 years into the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) clubs by League Management Company (LMC), the programme has already attracted the interest of all sports stakeholders in Nigeria.
The Management Company (LMC) collaborated with Spanish top flight, La-Liga, to develop and nurture future NPFL stars to organise the tourney tagged NPFL U-15 Promises League.
The championship, which started on 9th of April in two centres, Oweri, Group A and Osogbo centre, Group C concluded on April 2017, with Shooting Stars and ABS FC qualified for the quarter final stages scheduled to hold in Lagos later this month.
Saraki boys finished second in the group with nine points while 3SC garnered 10 points to top the group.
MFM came third with five points and Remo Stars finished in fourth place with four four points while Sunshine was placed in the bottom of the log with zero point.
The Osogbo centre has produced many young talents that will definitely helped Nigeria football, come 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries FC produced the youngest players of the tournament, Lawal Sulaimon, an SS 1 student of Dairy Farm Secondary School, Agege, Lagos
The diminutive midfielder became the toast of many at the Oshogbo City Stadium during his team’s Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) Under 15 Promises tournament.
Lawal propelled his side to their first win of the tourney over Sunshine Stars, he provided the assistant that led to Eniayewu first goal of the competition off a well taken free kick.
The skilful playmaker capped his performance on that day with a goal from the penalty spot. His overall display during the tournament earned him standing ovation from spectators at the Osogbo Stadium.
Lawal, shared his thought with MFM FC Media few minutes after their 1-1 draw against the Ibadan-based club Shooting Stars.
Another wonderful players produced by Abubakar Bukola Saraki Ilorin Football Club are David Okoromi and Olakunle Olusegun.
Okoromi, the14-year-old prolific striker, who scored more than 10 goals, scored two wonderful goals in the competition.
Okoromi would definitely be a good future striker for Nigeria if he is well monitored and nurtured for future purposes.
Olusegun is another wonderful player who most of the Osogbo football lovers described as most intelligent player in-group C centre.
He scored two remarkable goals in their second game against Sunshine, one free kick and another volley from 25 yards.
Speaking about his experience in the competition,
ABS Captain, Olusegun Olakunle said the competition has given them hope that they can play for Nigeria in the future.
“I’m very happy for the game we played today and for our performance, in the nearest future we see ourselves playing for Nigeria. I also want to thank the Chairman of ABS FC, Seni Saraki for his love for the youths,” the creative midfielder told Pilot Sports.
His response, the La-Liga Ambassador said the tournament was introduced to create an avenue for youths to showcase their talents and also to introduce youth team to all NPFL clubs.
“The objective is for clubs to have youth structure because we are particular about youth structure, that is the way they do it in Spain. We just want to inculcate the idea in our clubs system here. Clubs must have youth structure because it will help them and the national team.
“This programme will keep the boys out of the street, aside that we are very particular about their education, that is why we want all of them to be in school.
“We are trying to compel all the clubs to cue into the idea because we need to build this youth from the grassroots. This programme will help the clubs, instead of buy players with big money from other clubs; they can easily get their players from the team.
“We just feel we need to start from somewhere because if we have the youth team, we can now start to play the league so, this is just the beginning of the programmme.
Chairman State of Osun Football Association, Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi commended the effort of the LMC for introducing the U-15 youth tournament.
“This is a very good tournament and I believe this will help our football to grow. It is a developmental project and I a want to commend the LMC for their good initiative,” said the former Secretary, NFA.
Most of the youth coaches who took part in the competition commended the initiative of the LMC introducing the tournament.
The proposed youth league has already attracted the interest of La-Liga who are in partnership with the LMC. La-Liga will be sending in scouts and experts who would train the NPFL teams on coaching, scouting and management of youngsters.
It is expected that after the modification, should it be required, the best NPFL U-15 talents would be taken to Spain at the end of the season to participate in the La-Liga Promisas Tournament for young U-15 players.
The NPFL U-15 youth league will however be scheduled to align with the school academic calendar so that the youngsters can combine both.