.Idoma Monarch Made Football Patron
The paramount ruler of Idoma land, HIS Royal Majesty, Dr. John Odogbo Elaigwu has showered special blessings and encomiums on the new Benue State Football Association (BSFA) led by Barrister Paul Edeh.
The courtesy visit to the Och’ Idoma Palace, according to the FA, was in continuation of the Board’s initial consultations and partnership drive with critical stakeholders within the state as part of effort to ensure holistic engagement for sustained football development.
Barrister Edeh, who intimated the highly respected Traditional Ruler of how the new FA Board emerged and its already set blueprints in advancing the course of football development, solicited for his support and prayers.
Edeh, a legal luminary turned football administrator was emphatic that at the core of the BSFA’s vision, is massive development of the round-leather game at the grassroots as means of fostering peace and unity as well as engaging the youths to focus on meaningful ventures.
He said, “In the past, most state FAs concentrate on the state capital when it comes to football development, but today Benue State FA has come to understand that, that little girl or boy in Ogbadigbo, Adigbo and other communities across the state can make it in various fields of endeavour, outside being doctors, lawyers, journalists etc.
“For instance, a football legend like Daniel Amokachi and indeed many others have made a whole lot of impacts using football. Infact, they are now models, that young ones look up to excel.
“We can restore those good old days when football use to attract so much attention in our communities and various localities and that is why we as an FA Board are very intentional in creating pathways for us to fish out talents that will make Benue and Nigeria proud.
“Therefore, we came to seek the guidance of his Royal Majesty so we can move football development forward.”
Responding, the Och’ Idoma while congratulating the new FA board, swiftly enjoined them to always work together and give the chairman maximum support so as to steer Benue football to higher heights.
Amidst the release of Royal blessings through fervent prayers for the FA board as well as his numerous advice, the Och’ Idoma who is the Chairman Idoma Traditional Ruling Council said, “A tree cannot make a forest. You all need to work together to achieve your set goals. As you have elected your chairman with one voice, always support his leadership to do well… Whatever you do now will determine what will be spoken about you in the future.
The Och’ Idoma also recalled his football passion while growing up, adding, “I was a footballer while growing up just as my elder brother but we didn’t have anyone to train or guide us. Now, it’s no longer the situation. Young people should avoid all forms of vices and queue into opportunities that sports prevents.
“We will continue to support football development and I urge everyone to also support this worthy course.”
Meanwhile His Royal Majesty, Dr. John Odogbo Elaigwu, has now become the Patron of Benue State Football Association (BSFA).
The development comes few days after the paramount ruler of Tiv Nation, His Royal Majesty, Prof. James Ayatse, was named as football Grand Patron.
Edeh who hailed the indelible impact of Och’ Idoma in ensuring peace and unity of his domain, urged the Monarch to give approval for annual hosting of Och’ Idoma Cup.
While recalling the dearth of football activities in the state, particularly in Otukpo, Edeh appealed to the Och’ Idoma to use his revered position to urge the state government in collaboration with the 23 Local Government Areas to put the interest of football development at heart by making available land for stadiums as well as put it in place.
He said, “No doubt, Otukpo does not have a single stadium where your children can train or play any match. The only one (township stadium) we managed to have back in the decades, is no longer available after it was taken over by a federal government agency.
“Now in Otukpo, people play their matches on few primary and secondary school pitches. We then appeal to your royal majesty to prevail on the LGA Chairmen in Zone C and the Governor to make available a land for stadium each and establish them because football is a unifying factor for peaceful coexistence.
“When we came on board, we took an initiative to institute an annual Och’ Idoma Cup, just as we had pleaded with his Royal Majesty Tor Tiv as a way to spread the message of Peace and Unity.”
On his part, the Och’ Idoma hailed the calibre of personalities in the FA and enjoined the board to remain focused.
The Traditional Ruler said he will accept to be a Patron of the FA while Tor Tiv is the Grand Patron, adding, “Respect must be given to the Tor Tiv in his status as the Chairman of Benue State Traditional Rulers Council. We are one. As Tor Tiv leads the Traditional Council in the state, he has our full support.”
The Och’ Idoma however, decried the attitude of some well-to-do individuals within Idoma, but singled out Barr Edeh for high commendations due to his philanthropic gestures which led to installation of power substation transformers in parts of Otukpo as well as other developmental moves.
Highpoint of the visit was the presentation of special packages including footballs, sports track suits, jerseys and a plaque to the traditional ruler.