*Urge players to focus on career and education
As part of appreciation and encouragement, the Lagos State Football Association (LSFA) hosted the Silver medalist Team Lagos men and women football teams to the 20th National Sports Festival in Benin City, Edo state, at the Soccer Temple, Agege, on Sunday.
LSFA Chairman and 1st Vice President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi, appreciated Team Lagos Football teams and urged the players to focus on their career and education.
“We are here to welcome you back home and to say thank you to the team’s contingent, coaches, players, and backroom staff, we are proud of you all. We appreciate your attitude and the kind of football you played. Your progress is our mission, you have got the experience and you all will be stronger. You all have made us proud,” emotional Akinwunmi said.
Akinwunmi commended the Lagos State government and the Sports Commission for their support despite the challenges the team encountered during the qualifiers and accreditation of players for the Festival.
“We appreciate the Lagos State government and the Lagos State Sports Commission for their support. We are ready to support your progress, we know what we have done to support different kids in Lagos, footballers and also those willing to acquire education. We have saved a lot from slavery contracts as well.
“Football is gradual, with the right support you will get there. You have to take the right steps, if you are patient you will get there. You all need education, educated players is a better player. An educated player as security after playing.
“We are not interested in football agencies, we are only interested in your success. We are here to guide you and support your progress. This is the beginning for you all, you have to continue working hard. The glory is for us in Lagos, this is the reason why we have to work together as a family. My board members have been fantastic and we are proud that our work has come to fruition.”
LSFA Vice-Chairman, Otunba Tade Azeez, described the team’s podium finish as the ‘Golden’ Silver medal.
“We are proud of your performance, it was a Golden Silver finish for us. We heard what happened in Edo State, irrespective of that, we are proud of your performance,” an elated Azeez said.
The head coach of the men’s team, Hamidi Suleiman shower praises on his boys for their performance in Benin City despite the drama and intimidation in the final game.
He said; “We appreciate the opportunity for us to compete in the Festival, I want to salute my boys for their performance despite the challenges in Benin City. It was an amazing experience and I think we were good ambassadors of the State. We lost in the final, football is a game of chance, but despite losing the final game, we were the center of attention for those at the stadium.”
The captain of the women’s team, Asooto Franca, narrated the experience they garnered at the Festival.
“In our first game, we played with just eight players because of clearance issues, but we were still able to secure a result. Then, the issue of penalties came up as a tiebreaker for the team that would progress and we survived the hurdle. Our performance in the semifinal was superb and I think we gave our best in the final. The experience wasn’t good in the final, tensed atmosphere and intimidation,” Franca revealed.