No fewer than 57 schools in the FCT are expected to take part in the 2017 Principals’ Cup tournament, scheduled to kick off from Nov. 8 to Nov. 28.
The Vice-Chairman of the FCT Football Association, Patrick Ngwaogu, who made the announcement in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja, said that this year’s edition would feature girls.
“The idea to include girls in this year’s edition is to ensure that they have a sense of belonging just like the boys.
“Since we are developing and discovering the boys, the organisers in their wisdom thought it wise to do same for the girls.”
Ngwaogu said that the grassroots competition, now in its third edition had recorded tremendous success, ranging from increase in the number of participating schools to discovery of talents.
“The tournament started in 2015 with 32 schools taking part, while the number increased to 44 schools in 2016 with Fosla Academy winning the first two editions.
“Our intention was just to return the game back to the schools, which is where the genuine grassroots players are domiciled.
“Our champion in 2015 represented FCT in the All Nigeria Secondary Schools Football Tournament (NNPC /Shell Cup) in 2016 and went all the way to the finals.
“In 2017 edition of the tournament, they played up to the zonal finals, despite all the odds against the team.
“Two players from the school, Dauda Jibril and Achu Gabriel also made the starting lineup of the Golden Eaglets team that lost to Niger Republic last year in the qualifiers of the ongoing FIFA U-17 World Cup.
“While the goalkeeper of the school, Moses Aluko kept for the country’s U-15 national team in a friendly match against Morocco in Rabat last August,” Ngwaogu said.
The vice-chairman said that this year’s edition was promising to be more exciting, noting that some schools had already commenced training, ahead of the tournament.
“We have succeeded in ensuring that all the schools in FCT have the competition as part of their programme every year.
“We must thank the FCT Administration, FCT Sports Department and FCT Secondary Education Board for the support.
“They have all come to embrace the programme.
“We must also not fail to recognise the efforts of FCT SWAN in creating the needed awareness.”
Ngwaogu, however, called on the private sector and corporate bodies to contribute meaningfully to the growth and development of grassroots tournaments in the FCT.
“Our challenge remains the corporate bodies, who have failed to come to our aid.
“They have refused to embrace the programme, despite it been a genuinely grassroots programme that anyone can easily boast of,” he said.