The 18th edition of the All-Nigeria Secondary Schools Football Championship popularly known as the NNPC/Shell Cup has started…and there is excitement in the air.. External Relations Communications Manager, The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), Mrs. Sola Abulu,reveal the mood,history and successes of the competition so far ‘ This is Nigeria’s flagship grassroots football competition for secondary schools, the 17th edition of which was won by the Rochas Okorocha Foundation College team in 2015.
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 2 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. 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.
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. That was the unique and new dimension the NNPC/Shell Cup introduced. 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 3 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. Among the coaching crew for the 2015 edition was former Super Eagles striker, Michael Obiku, who is the head coach with the Feyenoord academy. We have sustained the partnership and the finalist teams and their coaches for the 2016 edition will enjoy the benefit of the coaching clinics. I have no doubt that the benefit of the coaching clinics will reflect in the quality of performance of the teams.
It may interest you to know that through the competition, many young footballers have been discovered from Nigerian secondary schools and have moved on to represent the country in age-group football competitions. A few have also graduated to the under-23 team and even to the Super Eagles level. Many professional clubs in Nigeria and abroad have used the platform of the NNPC/Shell Cup to pick talents for their teams.
Let’s see some recent examples: Idowu Akinjide who wore jersey number 4 for National College, Ughelli in the 2012 NNPC-Shell Cup, wore number 4 jersey for the Golden Eaglets team that won the 2013 FIFA U-17 tournament in United Arab Emirate. 4 Another product of the competition that has grown to become a national star is Ejike Uzoenyi; he competed at the 2013 edition of the championship and went on to represent Nigeria in the Super Eagles team that won the 2013 African Cup of Nations in South Africa, and the bronze medal at the 2014 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) where he emerged the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament. Others like Cletus Itodo, Ajani Ibrahim, Eyimofe Joseph and so many others in the Nigeria Premier Football League are products of this championship. Stories like these encourage us to want to do more.
The prize money for the 2016 NNPC/Shell Cup is a total of N8.2million – N3.5m for the 1st position; N2.3m for the 2nd position; N1.3m and N1.1 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’