The Government of Lagos State is delighted that the ‘Centre ofExcellence’ was chosen to host the inaugural edition of the Aisha Buhari Invitational Women’s Tournament and will leave no stoneunturned to stage a tournament for the beautiful side of memories,Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu assured on Friday.
Speaking when Members of the Local Organizing Committee of thetournament led by NFF 1st Vice President/Chairman of Lagos State FA,Barr. Seyi Akinwunmi paid him a courtesy visit at the State House,Marina, Sanwo-Olu did nothing to hide his enthusiasm and confessed adeepening love for football and especially the women’s game.
“Football is one of the lead factors that bridge the gap and bringcommunities closer together and is enabling a more exciting world. Thewomen’s game has continued to pull its weight and can be said to bepresently at par with the men’s game in the euphoria that itgenerates, and the sheer class, stamina, excellence and expertise thatthe players put on display.
“Lagos State, the State of aquatic splendour, is delighted to be namedas host of this very important invitational tournament. We will aim tonot only host a tournament befitting of the name and positive valuesthat Her Excellency projects and promotes, but also want to showcaseour State and the country at large through an efficient and effectiveorganization that will be talked about for a long time.”
While heaping encomiums on President of Nigeria Football Federationand FIFA Council Member, Mr Amaju Melvin Pinnick for being “highlydedicated and passionate about the sport, and a man who alwaysbelieves and works hard to make things happen,” Sanwo-Olu recalled therole Lagos State Government played in the Super Eagles travelling bywaterways to the 2021 AFCON qualifying match against Benin Republic inCotonou in March this year, and stated that the exercise has alreadyproduced direct spin-offs. “We have signed contracts to build ninemini-stadia across the State and these will be of immense value to theyouth of this country who are highly talented but only needinfrastructure to nurture to world standard.”
Insisting that the ongoing renovation work at the Teslim BalogunStadium will make the facility the best in the country, Sanwo-Olu saidLagos will be ready and proud to host First Lady, Dr (Mrs) AishaBuhari during the tournament, and assured that the tenacious footballfans in Lagos will add much colour to the week-long tournament. “Theopportunities available in football are boundless, so we will committo delivering a successful and model event that will spur us toencourage and support women’s football in our institutions of learningin Lagos State.”
Speaking earlier, Mr. Pinnick informed Governor Sanwo-Olu that the LOCmembers were A-list individuals carefully drawn from the football,business and political spheres, and are already aligned to the factthat the Aisha Buhari Invitational Tournament must meet the beststandards possible anywhere, and has to leave worthy legacies thatwill reflect brilliantly on Nigeria’s image in the universe.
“I want to specially thank Governor Sanwo-Olu for the role has playedin supporting the Super Eagles and other National Teams, but let mesay here that the month of September is a loaded one. The Super Eagleswill kick off their 2022 World Cup qualifying race against Liberia inLagos on 3rd September, and then fly from here to play Cape Verdeaway. The Aisha Buhari Cup is a very big project because nothing mustgo wrong. We want to do it so well that subsequent editions will havea template to fall back on.”
Chairman of the LOC, Barr. Akinwunmi praised Sanwo-Olu for histremendous support and encouragement of football in Lagos State andnationally, and pledged that the committee will organize a tournamentworthy of the name of the First Lady and which honours the Centre ofExcellence.
In her vote of thanks, the Director of Organization, Aisha Falode saidhosting the tournament is a big opportunity for Nigeria to make astatement, and that the entire LOC membership was attuned to thevision of using the tournament to engender new, positive narrativesabout Lagos State (the cradle of women’s football in Nigeria) and theNigeria nation.
At the occasion were Pinnick, Akinwunmi, Falode, Sola Aiyepeku(Chairman, Lagos State Sports Commission); Toyin Gafaar Bolowotan (DG,LSSC); Alh. Ibrahim Musa Gusau (Member, LOC); Dr Wole Aboderin(Member); Mr Saidu Suleman (Member); Mrs Amina Daura (Deputy Directorof Organization); Rt. Hon. Margaret Icheen (Member); Hon. Ayo Omidiran(Member); Mr Ademola Olajire (Director of Publicity); Mrs UfuomaMcDermott (Member); Miss Oluwakemi Areola (Member); Mr OlayinkaOlagbemiro (Member); Miss Ese Okpomo (Member); Mr Kola Daniel(Member); Mr Rajan Zaka (Finance Director); Mr Mohammed Ameenu (Ag.Secretary) and Mr Taye Ige (Marketing Consultant).