By Albert Akota
Chelsea of England and Super Eagles’ ace Victor Moses and reigning African Woman Player of the Year, Asisat Oshoala were among the winners at a hugely entertaining inaugural edition of the AITEO-NFF Football Awards at the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, with his retinue of cabinet members and senior aides, joined Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, FIFA President Gianni Infantino, CAF President Ahmad, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura, a couple of former governors, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth and Sports, AITEO and NFF bigwigs, NFF Congress members, presidents of 17 Member Associations of FIFA, industry chieftains, political movers, legends of Nigerian Football, media owners and heavyweights and foremost artistes to witness a spectacle at Eko Hotel’s Grand Ballroom.
Ambode declared that his government was determined to continue to support worthy sporting projects, with an eye on extensive sports tourism that could have major economic impact on the “fifth largest economy in the African continent” and make Lagos a sports hub of gargantuan proportion.
NFF President Pinnick praised President Muhammadu Buhari (GCON) for creating the enabling environment for sports to thrive again, and Infantino and the FIFA and CAF hierarchies for tremendous support to the Nigeria game.
AITEO’s Deputy Managing Director Francis Peters, in obvious elation, said: “The amazing power of football to heal wounds, enrich the gifted and entertain the majority is the reason why AITEO, Africa’s leading energy solution company, is investing in the game.
We remain grateful to the Nigeria Football Federation for giving us the opportunity to begin charity at home. We also praise the leadership of the Confederation of African Football for providing us with the platform to be part of the continental terrain.
“AITEO is an organization that is committed to the vision of every African realizing his potential, whether they be in football or some other profession, and our operating business principle revolves round encouraging and empowering the teeming youth population of this country, and of this continent, to take their destiny in their own hands and aim for the very top.”
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Mr. Olusade Adesola commended the NFF leadership for institutionalizing “a project that will reward and encourage Nigerian footballers and in turn inspire their commitment and sense of patriotism to national assignments,” while Gianni was delighted by the presence of Nigerian legends, insisting they are also legends of world football.
Other winners on the night included Super Falcons’ star Rasheedat Ajibade, Enyimba’s FC’s Ikouwem Udoh, Ann Chiejine, Kennedy Boboye, Plateau United FC, Elkanemi Warriors FC Fans, Remo Stars FC, Channels Television and MFM FC’s Sikiru Olatubosun.
Universally –acknowledged dancer Kaffy, Miss Vee from Ghana and Nigerian raves Patoranking, Tiwa Savage, Reekado Banks and Falz thrilled the audience as Mimi Fawaz and A-list stand –up comedian Mr. Bovi compered.
At the end, former Nigeria captain Olusegun Odegbami declared: “This is highly fulfilling. An Awards ceremony of this nature has been long overdue, but it is not surprising that the present NFF administration that has been taking giant strides and instituting a level and scope of development never before seen in Nigerian Football is the one to finally make this happen.
“On behalf of all generations, male and female, young and old, I salute the NFF and wish them the very best in their journey to take Nigerian Football to new levels of excellence.”
Young Player of the Year (Women): Rasheedat Ajibade
Young Player of the Year (Men): Ikouwem Udoh
Fair Play Award: Remo Stars FC
Fans of the Season: El-Kanemi Warriors FC Fans
Coach of the Year (Women): Ann Chiejine
Coach of the Year (Men): Kennedy Boboye
Goal of the Year: Sikiru Olatubosun (MFM FC)
Team of the Season: Plateau United FC
NFF Development Award: Channels Television (Channels Kids’ Cup)
Legends Eleven: Ann Chiejine, Austin Eguavoen, Felix Owolabi, Nwankwo Kanu, Christian Chukwu, Uche Okechukwu, Segun Odegbami, Mercy Akide-Udoh, Thompson Usiyen, Augustine ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha, Adokiye Amiesimaka
Special Recognition: Nigeria’s 1973 All-Africa Games Gold Medallists
Platinum Award: Gianni Infantino