Benue State Football Association (BSFA) led by its vibrant Chairman Barrister Paul Edeh has demanded the return of the ancient Township Stadium in Otukpo to the FA, to enable teams to train and host championships.
Edeh, his entire FA Executive Board Members, affiliates, and other stakeholders made the crucial demand when they stormed the then football ground in Otukpo.
Coincidentally, the youths of the area who are eager to reclaim their playing pitch which was allegedly taken over by the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), a federal government agency, gathered in protest.
While they protested, the FA board in unison walked around and prayed to God to grant them their heart’s desire, just as they appealed to the Benue State Government for its intervention.
Speaking, a popular and former Benue State-born player, Eugene Agaigbe, expressed his sadness over the state of the pitch which has been turned into an abandoned building site.
Agaigbe who also played for Lobi Stars of Makurdi said, “I feel very bad and disappointed when I came around after many years to see that this place has been turned into another thing entirely. I played here as far back as 1988/89 and later I came back to play for Obeya Babes in 1991.
“Throughout my football career, this is where I made my name. Now that I’m a coach I feel very bad because I should have taken my team to play on this same ground.”
A former Councillor in the area, Honourable Francis Ijiga, said, “This land from the early 80s was designated as the Township Stadium in Otukpo. At that time, many clubs from within and outside Otukpo used to train and play football competitions here.
“The ground produced many football stars we heard of in the past. Unfortunately, in the early 90s, the land was taken over by other people and they converted and later abandoned it as against the original plan by the government that approved it as a football pitch.
Also speaking, BSFA board member and former organizing secretary of Otukpo Local Government Area, Mr. Godwin Oyiagba revealed that NCC took over the place over two decades ago with a promise to provide an alternative venue for the Township Stadium.
“This is the only stadium we have in Idoma land where I raised a team and that same team got to the National Division One League.”
A former Match Commissioner and current BSFA Vice Chairman Alex Awunah said, “I have commissioned matches here in the late 80s and early 90s. This ground is very strategic for the youth of Otukpo and Benue State in general.”
On his part, the FA Chairman, Barrister Edeh said, “The bible instructed that no one should take away the ancient landmark. The takeover of the Township Stadium is a clear indication that the ancient landmark has been moved.
“Teams especially in Otukpo don’t have any place to train or play. They have been relegated to use primary and secondary schools and most times they are not granted permission.
“We have come to reclaim the land. Look at the youths roaming the streets, they want to make a name for themselves but they can’t because there’s no place to use for training. In fact, in the last RATELS Benue Football League which was held a few weeks ago, no team from Otukpo participated because they don’t have a place to train, let alone register to participate.
“Just as His Royal Majesty said, the children who are birthed now are the ones who will reap from the legacies we will leave behind. I can assure you that nothing can be done with this abandoned building project anymore. The building is no more significant than having a football pitch here.
“There’s no land that one can get for a Township Stadium that is on a strategic location, as the place is in the heart of Otukpo.”
Meanwhile, Barrister Edeh and his entourage had visited the paramount ruler of Idoma Land, HIS Royal Majesty Dr. John Odogbo Elaigwu on a courtesy call.