Lagos, April 15, 2019 The Technical Director of Lagos Junior League (J-League), Tunde Disu (OFR), on Monday bemoaned the continued postponement of the competition which, he said, had not been held for the past four football seasons.
Disu told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos that the continued absence of the grassroots development football competition had continued to rob the state off of new talents.
NAN reports that the once vibrant grassroots football league has produced many great footballers for the national teams at the age grade and the senior team.
Some of the players include, Sporting Charleroi of Belgium ace goal poacher and Super Eagles forward, Victor Osimhen, and Leicester City and Super Eagles midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi
Others are Feirense FC of Portugal and Super Eagles goal tender, Dele Alampasu, former MFM FC highest goal scorer and FC Zurich highest goal scorer, Stephen Odey, and Sikiru Olatunbosun among others.
It is worthy of note that Lagos J-League has produced more stars for the national team than any other grassroots football tournament in Nigeria, yet it has been overlooked for the last four years.
However, that league is the inactive is giving the man at the helm of affairs of the league, Disu, a serious concern as he appealed for sponsorships from government and private sector.
He said that the league with its reputation as the best grassroots league in the country had been left in the doldrums for too long, adding that he would stop at nothing to revive it.
“J-League is the best organised grassroots league in Nigeria because the records are there for everyone to see. The league has its reputation as the best where scouts do come to make discoveries.
“The prolonged absence of J-League is due to some factors beyond our capacity because it involves all the Local Government Councils (LGCs) and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) the original co-owners.
“Some of the reasons are the delay in the election of the council chairmen which was done two years ago, then, this year as an election year again.
“After the election, we tried to get the attention of the chairmen to the importance of this league and we got a favourable response; on our own part, we’re making frantic efforts technically,” he said.
Disu said that the management of the J-League was considering other options for getting the league back to the field, adding that the marketing department was working assiduously on it.
“We understand how difficult it is for government alone to run a competition like this, so, we on our won part with the marketing department are considering other options.
“We have set out to reach some companies for partnership and sponsorship. Sponsorship proposals has been sent to some private companies, while we hope to have good responses.
“We have also reached out to some sports betting company because most of the youths are now involved in sports betting which is good for their business.
“The gains of J-League are much because it is the only recognised grassroots league that has produced many players in the age-grade national teams.
“The league has discovered many talented players that have graduated from the age-grade teams to senior national team players like Wilfred Ndidi, Victor Osimhen, Stephen Odey, Dele Alampasu, and the CNN Goal of the Month recipient, Sikiru Olatunbosun,” he said.
Disu said that football was a rewarding venture for potential investors, noting that opportunities abound in the sport because it involved youths that form the largest chunk of the population.
“Football is a big business with high returns; countries that take it serious are already reaping its rewards because it does not come with a loss.
“Football can absorb as many youths as it can because of its passionate appeal to many. Looking at the population, one will find out that youths constitute the largest chunk.
“We can also latch unto this opportunity that we have to effectively engage our teeming youths in sports and also the investors smiling to the bank for the reward on their investment,” he said.