By Jonathan Ugbal
The maiden Governor Ben Ayade Under 15 football tournament has kicked off in Cross River State with a total of 254 secondary schools in participation across the 18 local government areas of the state.
The tournament is aimed at fostering peace and keeping the youths engaged positively as well as a means of discovering new talents says the Chairman of the Cross River State Sports Commission, Orok Duke who disclosed that the last 6 finals will hold at the U.J Esuene Stadium in Calabar, the state’s capital between March 28 – 31, 2017.
The commission also announced the prize sum of NGN10,000 to best players in 3 categories; Defense, Midfield and most goals scored which are in honour of late sporting stars, Christopher Edem, John Okon Ene and sports journalist Bassey Ekpo who was popularly referred to as ‘Koma’ reports THISDAY newspaper.
CrossRiverWatch also gathered from sources in the commission that several basketball equipment have been procured in preparation for a tournament for primary and secondary schools in the state which may kick off shortly after the football tourney.
This follows plans by the commission to immortalize selected personalities who have contributed to the development of sports in the state and Nigeria at large through tournaments.
Legends such as late Hogan ‘Kid’ Bassey who won Nigeria’s first world title in Boxing in 1957, a renowned sports administrator, late Oyo Orok Oyo who became Nigeria’s first member of the Confederation of African Football executive committee, and served as Nigerian Football Association Secretary General for 12 years as well as renowned sports journalist, late Bassey Ekpo are among the list of honorees.
Others include living table tennis legend Offiong Edem, former Nigerian track queen in the 400 metres category who now runs for Bahrain, Edidiong Ofonime Odiong and former Nigerian football international who played for Nigeria’s Flying Eagles in Chile ’87 late Okon Ene.
former Nigerian football international will all be honoured through tournaments organised by the commission.
The commission also plans scholarship schemes for standout athletes.
Duke also said that a former Nigerian junior champion in the 400 meters in 2013 now running for Bahrain, Edidiong Ofonime Odiong, would also be honoured.
Odiong won gold in 200 metres for Bahrain, her adopted country, in the IAAF World U-20 Championships in Poland when she was 19 years old.
Duke said that Offiong Edem, a living female tennis legend from the state, and late Okon Ene, former Nigerian football international who played for Nigeria’s Flying Eagles in Chile ’87 will all be honoured through tournaments organised by the commission.