ALL is set for the 18th edition of the All-Nigeria Secondary Schools Football Championship popularly known as the NNPC/Shell Cup. Sola Abulu, external relations communications manager, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, SPDC, said the 2016 championship is designed to be more competitive that the 2015 edition.
Speaking at a press conference in Lagos on Wednesday, February 10, Abulu said the event of today is to lay the foundation of academic and football success for youths in Nigeria whose identity will be revealed by the discovery of their talent in the course of the tournament. “This excites me and I’m eager to see the tournament get underway. Over the years, the SPDC JV has sustained the founding vision for the NNPC/Shell Cup by promoting education and football hand-in-hand among secondary school students.
“The increasing successes of each edition of the competition and the growing number of football stars of significant repute produced by the tournament have shown that it is possible for our students to attain academic excellence while pursuing their passion for sports. That is what the tournament stands for; and that we have always achieved with the support of our partners and key stakeholders.”
According to her, when this championship was introduced by the SPDC JV 18 years ago, it was a venture into an uncharted territory where no corporate organisation had ever attempted to sponsor a nation-wide age grade football tournament open to all secondary schools in every part of Nigeria. She said before the championship there was the Nigeria Academicals Championship, but that was a competition between selected student players representing either the regions or states, and not individual schools.
“Every year ever since then, the SPDC Joint Venture has endeavoured to make each tournament bigger and better than the previous one in terms of quality and opportunities for participants. For instance, in the 2015 edition, over 60,000 students representing 3,000 schools from the six geopolitical zones of the country participated in the competition and we had over 15,000 officials. We expect the number to be higher this year. Also, in 2014, we formed a partnership with the Feyenoord Academy, a leading youth football academy in the Netherlands. The partnership led to the exposure of the finalist teams and their coaches to coaching clinics handled by international coaches from the academy.”
She noted that the prize money for the 2016 NNPC/Shell Cup is a total of N8.2 million, N3.5 million for the 1st position; N2.3 million for the 2nd position; N1.3 million and N1.1 million for the 3rd and the 4th positions respectively. “In our effort to ensure a quality competition that meets its purpose, we are giving opportunity to every secondary school in each state and the Federal Capital Territory to register for the 2016 edition. Talent discovery is also going to start from the first match of the tournament thereby giving opportunity to highly talented players whose school may not make it to the finals. I therefore encourage coaches of the Nigerian junior national team and indeed football clubs in the country to take advantage of this tournament to scout for talents.”
— Feb 22, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT