The Gombe state Football Association, in collaboration with the state Ministry of Education, has revealed plans to organise a football competition for secondary schools in the state.
The state’s FA chairman, Mr Yakubu Sarma, made the revelation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Gombe, on Thursday.
Sarma stated that sports, particularly football, had been leveraged in developed climes to empower the young ones as well as effect positive changes in the citizens.
He said that the competition was aimed at harnessing the potentials of the students, uniting them for peaceful co-existence, while distracting them from vices like drug abuse and crimes.
“We are passionate about football development, especially at the grassroots. This is the real deal because catching them young and developing them properly would make more positive impact than when they grow up.
“This year, we would start secondary schools football competition, in partnership with Adamu Yola Foundation. Talks are in advance stage and we have met with the commissioner of education and other stakeholders.
“We are doing this because education is not all about school. In those days, schools were used to discover most of the players that we now celebrate as heroes.
“So, we are returning to the base to harvest our talents and help nurture them to the path of success in their football careers,’’ he said.
According to him, participants in the competition would be drawn from both private and public schools to ensure a wide coverage.
He added that the competition would be properly planned so that “it doesn’t affect academic calendar or halt learning at any point: because we value education in Gombe.’’
The FA chairman stated that the neglect of sports competitions in schools had resulted in talents being wasted and “this is why you now see schools without sports facilities, it’s sad.’’
He said that it was imperative to leverage that platform in Gombe, being a sports-loving state, to teach good morals, principles of discipline, commitment, hard work and resilience to the students through football.
Sarma stated that the FA, through various partnerships, had been organising under-13 and 15 football competitions, as a tool for grassroots football development.
He stated that providing such platforms and other scouting opportunities for talented young men to showcase their potentials had been yielding positive results “as some of the lads from Gombe have secured professional deals abroad”.
While stressing that sports and drugs do not work together, Sarma urged government and individuals to invest more in sports to “shift attention of our youth from drugs; because sports teaches you decency and discipline.’’(NAN)