The Director General, Lagos State Sports Commission, Toyin Gafar, said the Ajegunle Nations Mock Cup would reunite the youth and discover more talents in football.
Gafar said this during the final of the 36th edition of the tournament held at the Navy Barracks, Ajegunle, Lagos, on Wednesday.
The match ended with Cote d’Ivoire defeating Mauritania 2-1.
Gafar said the Lagos State government had taken up the responsibility of the local sport to also support the players as well as the residents of the community.
“The performance has been wonderful and encouraging.
“Now that we are in a political situation, we are using sports to drum support for all the candidates contesting under All Progressive Congress (APC), staring from Presidential candidate, Sen. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, among others.
“As we are having the football match in Ajegunle, we are also having it in Ikorodu, Lagos Island and Badagry simultaneously because the APC government cares for the youth as we engage them from time to time,” Gafar said.
The former Chairman, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, (LCDA) Fatai Ajidagba, said most of the Nigerian football stars started their football career and training from the Navy Barracks in Ajegunle.
Ajidagba appreciated the fact that football was a unifying factor for youths in the area.
He said he was confident of victory for the APC candidates in the 2023 general elections.
The APC candidate, running for the Federal House of Representatives, Paul Kalejaye, said Ajegunle was known for football, and that most of the talents that had excelled in the sport were discovered in Ajegunle.
Kalejaye said Ajegunle had produced a lot of talented persons which had assisted the country to win world cups.
The Chairman, Ajeromi Ifelodun, LCDA, Fatai Ayoola, said the football tournament had been an avenue for many people to interact and exchange contacts, which made the participants happy.
Ayoola said people from different fields of endeavours were involved in the sporting event, including the military, civil servants and artisans from across the country.
The Director General, Independent Campaign Council (ICC)of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Babajide Sanwo-Olu ,Grassroots Directorate, Ladi Balogun, commended governor Sanwo-Olu for reviving the Mock Nations Cup, which commenced in 1982.
“Ajegunle youths have been the bedrock of football in Nigeria, the likes of Jay Jay Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu, Stephen Keshi, Taiwo Oloyede, Waheed Akanni, among others, all of them started their football career from Navy Barracks here in Ajegunle.
“We are grateful to governor Sanwo-Olu for supporting and sponsoring the competition for the pass four years.
“We believe that this competition will sustain the relationship between the Lagos State government and the Ajegunle Mock Nations cup,” Balogun said.
He said all the teams adopted names of African countries, adding that the players who participated in the competition were youths from Port-Harcourt, Oyo, Bayelsa, and other states.
He said the first prize was N500,000; second prize, N300,000, while the third prize was N200,000 with a lot of other gifts from well wishers and the governor.
Balogun said the idea was to motivate the youth and encourage them to vote for APC candidates in the forthcoming election.
“Most valuable player : Jonathan Nsoke Mauritania, Highest goal scorer: Bright Friday Cote/D’ovoire, Best hand glove of the tournament: Kayode Steven Cote/D’ovoire, Best coach of the tournament: Agani Taofeeq Cote/D’ovoire.
“Also the most behaved team of the 2023 Ajegunle youth’s mock Nation’s cup, tournament is Mauritania,” Balogun said.
The Captain of Côte d’Ivoire team, Obaro Ogbone, appreciated the governor for supporting the youth, enabling them showcase their talents and interact with other youths who participated in the competition.
Ogbone said he had participated six times, while his team won five times. He thanked the people who came to encourage them by watching the games till the end.
A total 42 teams participated in the tournament.