Honey Badgers FC of Makurdi and Cambridge FC of Gboko have both emerged champions of the maiden edition of ESLF Football Tournament in the female and male categories respectively.
In the keenly contested female final tie, Honey Badgers FC knocked out hard-fighting Logo Queens of Ugba 4-2 on penalties following their goalless draw at regulation time, and in the male category, rampaging Cambridge FC of Gboko edged out resilient Avail FC of Otukpo by a lone goal to emerge overall male champions of the tourney.
In the third place matches decided the previous day, City Queens of Otukpo defeated Super Warriors of Okpoga by a lone goal while, Milo Stars FC of Adikpo won also by a lone goal.
Commending the success of the ESLF Football Tournament, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom described it as inspiring and directed he that similar tournaments be organised in the State for football and other sports like to harness the sporting potentials of youths in the State.
The Governor who affirmed that the complementary roles of resourceful women, praised the State First Lady, Dr. Eunice Ortom for serving excellently in that capacity and providing the needed support for policies and programme of his administration especially as it pertains to youths, women and children.
In his remarks, Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, represented by Mr. Kola Daniels hailed the doggedness of the First Lady and her initiative to use ESLF to showcase football talents which he noted abound in the State.
Earlier in her address, Founder of ESLF and First Lady of Benue State, Dr. Eunice Ortom assured football talents of using the platform of the tournament to support them to succeed.
Dr. Ortom who said the tournament targets engaging the creative energy of youths assured that it would be sustained every year to offer the chance for scouts to discover and nurture soccer talents in the State.
The ESLF Founder noted that as a mark of ESLF’s disposition to ensure inclusion, girls and persons in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps were given the chance to participate as their current condition should not deprive them of opportunities to better their lives.
She said football has the potential to save young ones from certain social ills including substance abuse and Female Genital Mutilation which she affirmed was a gross violation of the women’s right and a practice that is detrimental to their health.
On their part, immediate past coach of the Super Eagles national team, Austine Eguavoen, ex-internationals and Super Eagles stars who are also ESLF Ambassadors, Tijani Babangida and Emmanuel Babayaro hailed the quality of the competition and noted that as scouts, they had penciled down talented players to be taken up for further trials and support to enhance their career.
Babayaro particularly hailed the fact that “the tournament encompasses every indices of youth development including mentorship sessions for coaches and players” and that one of them Benedicta Amande, who saved 2 penalties at the finals, confessed that the mentorship session changed her life.
Making his remark, one of the partners of the tournament and Chief Executive Officer of Edi-Jen Company Nigeria Ltd, Chief Benjamin Omale who described football as a unifying factor praised the Governor’s wife for using such a unique tournament to achieve this feat. Chief Omale who is an ESLF Ambassador pledge to support outstanding players that were been discovered and would be supported to get to the next level of their career.
Trophies and various cash prizes were presented to the winning teams as well as individual prizes such as Most Valuable Player (MVP) award which went to Tondo Solomon (Male) and Doosur Atume (Female).
In their separate interviews, captain of the winning female team, Honey Badgers FC of Makurdi, Esther Kaase and Nelson Sule Olatunji of Avail FC of Otukpo expressed gratitude to Mrs. Ortom and the opportunity she had created for them through her Foundation.
Head Coach of Logo Queens of Ugba, Mr. Terver Mike said despite losing to Honey Badgers FC, he remained grateful for the chance to participate and thanked ESLF for giving his team the chance to, for the first time ever, participate in a tournament of such magnitude.