By Ere-ebi Agedah
Bayelsa Governor, Senator Douye Diri has called on the two hundred and six, 206 participating teams at this year’s Governor’s Football Tournament, to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship, fair play and ensure they give their best throughout the competition.
The Miracle Governor stated this during the official kick off ceremony of the showpiece grassroots competition at the Samson Siasia Sports Complex in Yenagoa, recently.
Governor Diri while declaring the competition open, described sports as an integral part of every society and expressed optimism that the tourney will not only curb youth restiveness, but create opportunities for exceptional players who may want to pursue a career in football.
He hinted that the state government was unable to host the competition last year, due to some unforseen circumstances.
He however expressed elation that the entire state is now agog as the competition gets underway.
“And I emplore all of you who are participating, and as you know that the game is fair play. I wish all of you the participating teams, good luck.”
“This is a competition that you need to put in your all, you wouldn’t know those who are coming to watch you, you wouldn’t know those who are coming to scout for players. This is a competition that can expose you nationally and internationally.”
“And for the ministry and the organisers, I will like to appreciate you, and thank you for ensuring that this year did not pass us by. This competition should have been held last year, but for unforeseen circumstances, we could not commence it last year.”
In a remark, Youth and Sports Development Commissioner, Hon. Daniel Igali, attributed the success of the sporting sector to the commitment and support of the Governor to sports being a one time Commissioner for Sport in the State.
Earlier, Director General of the Prosperity Cup, Mr. Ono Akpe in his welcome address, highlighted some prospects of the competition, and thanked the Governor for the attention given to sports in Bayelsa state since he assumed office.
“The tournament will run for six weeks and we anticipate that the final will be played on June 12. For now we have twenty centres across the State. Sixteen teams will emerge from the centres and will play until the final at this very stadium.”
“We expect a lot of national and international scouts in the last phase, the quarter finals, semi finals and final, while our own local scouts will be with us from the beginning of this match till the end of the tournament.”
Meanwhile, the opening game of the Bayelsa Governor Football Tournament, also known as ‘The Prosperity Cup’, lived up to its billing with a fascinating display between the defending champions, Okolobiri Community , and newcomers, Bayelsa Medical University FC.
The debutants eventually had the last laugh as they defeated their opponent by two goals to one, to pass a message to other participants, that they are not in the competition to make up the numbers, but to make a mark on their debut.
Goals from Godwin Francis in the 32nd minute and Ebi James’s volley in the 66th minute, ensured that the Bayelsa Medical University students were victorious on the opening day, while Benedict Berekubo got the consolation for the defending champions.
Action will continue on Friday in the selected twenty match centers, across the eight local government areas of the state.