The FCT FA has threatened to disqualify any school that fielded non-students at the ongoing Principals Cup in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The FA issued the warning in the wake of allegations that some schools used over-aged students or mercenaries to prosecute their matches.
A Games Master of Karshi JSS, Mr Joseph Okoh, had alleged that schools used non-students or mercenaries to prosecute their matches adding that lack of proper screening is contributing to such anomaly as well as win-at-all-cost-syndrome by coaches and games masters.
“The organization has been fair but there is still room for improvement. This is the 3rd edition and I believe in subsequent editions they should improve on the organization.
First, they should invite games masters of participating schools or their representatives; let us have a meeting before the competition starts. Thank God this year they have also introduced female competition too which started on Monday. They should bring in games masters to make their inputs and seek their views before the competition starts.
“Secondly, we cannot assess one’s age by mere physical appearance but there are some players that when you see them, you know they have exceeded the 17 years age bracket. After a while, schools still brought back disqualified players to play again. They cleared them to come and play even when we know they have exceeded the required age.
“There was no official screening. The one they did was done wrongly; it was not properly done. I feel that if they are doing the screening, they should visit participating schools get their register and confirm that those players are truly the students of those schools not at the venue of the match because any player can come in from nowhere and claim to be a student of any school.
Even from appearance, one can see they are not true students of a particular school. Schools hire mercenaries who are not their students to play for them,” Mr Okoh said
Issuing the warning in an exclusive interview, FCT Football Association 1st Vice Chairman, Patrick Ngwaogu, said that if there is any evidence to proof that a school used non-students, the FA would not hesitate to disqualify the school.
Mr Ngwaogu who is also the Chairman of the FCT FA Organizing Committee, stressed that the rules guiding the Principals Cup were set out to all stakeholders and reiterated that the FA would maintain the highest standard in ensuring that the purpose for which the tournament was instituted three years ago – which is to discover, nurture and groom future talents for the country – is maintained.
“The rules are very clear from the onset. It’s for students of SS 1-2 who are 17 years. But, for flexibility sake, Schools appealed that the SS 1 students are just resuming in schools, that if the SS3 students are disqualified, that they would be left with only SS 2 students. But we told them that if that is going to be the case, that it must be strictly U17 players. But, I think some of the schools tried misusing the opportunity, leading to its cancelation. There are no problems with the screening of players. Everything is moving on fine
“The purpose of FCT Principals Cup is to bring back competitive football to our schools which are where the real grassroots players are domiciled. We have maintained that any player that is out of secondary school is above 17 years, only on rear occasions. So, it is our desire to support the country in ensuring that the real U17 players are discovered, and that is exactly what we have been doing.
We are proud to say that within this short period, we have achieved a lot.
“Our winners in the last two editions, FOSLA Academy, played up to the finals of 2016 edition of the NNPC/Shell All Secondary school football competition. They won the silver medal. They won various individual awards like the highest goal scorer, best defender and the most valuable player of the tournament. The MVP had the opportunity of traveling to Feyenoord Academy in Holland for a two weeks training tour. Two players from the school made the last U. 17 National team.
“In the 2017 edition of the NNPC /Shell Cup, FOSLA Academy suffered a lot of humiliation at the zonal preliminaries, where they were criminally edged out in the zonal finals
“GSS Yangoji who was the finalist in maiden edition was disqualified in last year’s edition. If there is any evidence to proof that a school used non students, we would not hesitate to disqualify the school. The problem is the win at all cost syndrome of Nigerians. They don’t believe in what they have. We regularly appeal to their consciousness but we would get there one day.
Also speaking ahead of the Principals Cup quarterfinals on Monday next week, a Board member, FCT FA, Mr Zakari Musa, who watched the Karu Zonnal finals between Fosla Academy and Government Secondary School Wuse Zone 3 on Thursday, said that the essence of the Principals Cup was to discover talents for the future of the round leather game in Nigeria. Stressing that the allegation over the use of overaged players in the tournament was untrue as the FA had constantly verified claims of such. He added that the FA would provide good organisation to ensure that the best team emerged to represent the FCT at the national level.
“This allegation has been going on since the inception of the competition. This competition is a concept of the FCT FA; we started the game before we handed it over to the Secondary School Board to run in collaboration with them. We started the first edition but they took over from 2nd edition and this is the 3rd edition. There have been allegations like that but we have carried out our own verification and found out there is nothing like that.
“Before the first edition of the competition, three years ago, we had series of meetings with the hierarchy of board with the FA Sports Director. We even a meeting with Primary Schools Management Board to see if we can bring in the competition to that level but for now it is only the Principals Cup.
“We have a very good relationship with the Secondary School Board. They are fully in support of the competition and that is why if you go around the venues, you will see their staff. Everything has been handed over to them to organise while the FA supervises everything.
“We are planning seriously to see that we have a very good team to represent the FCT at the national level.
“Fosla Academy has not been doing badly. They represented the FCT on two occasions in 2015 and 2016 Coca-Cola and Shell competitions. In their first appearance, they played in the final in Lagos where they lost via penalty shootout. But I believe that this time around, we are going to have a very good team to represent us,” he said.