. . . Udala FC Wins League, DOSAD, Real Stars, GP World Runners Up
. . . Tony Oli Throws in Government Support, Chairman Appreciates Stakeholders, FIDES
By Fr Obinna Dike and Ebuka Mgbe
It was football fireworks at Burbendoff Sports Complex Adazi Nnukwu Anambra State on Friday, August 2, 2019, as the Anambra Independent Football League (AIFL) drew her curtains on Season 3. The final day of the 10-month league saw Udala Football Club of Uke lift the AIFL season 3 league trophy, after coming late to draw Real Stars Football Club of Nnewi, who nearly notched up the diadem with a 1-0 lead, till the 85th penalty that brought parity.
In the earlier match, DOSAD Football Academy, Enugwu Ukwu beat Ozalla Football Academy of Onitsha to come second with 44 points from 21 matches, just one point shy of the champions Udala FC, who garnered 45 points in 21 matches to win the league. Valladolid of Spain bound Chinaza Okeke scored the goal for DOSAD in the 62nd minutes. Real Stars FC came third with 42 points, while GP World football club of Nnewi came fourth with 41 points.
The ceremonial kick off for the final day matches was done by a member of the Anambra State Football Association (ASFA) Board member, Ada George. She was accompanied by the AIFL Council members and Anambra State Football Referee Council (ARC) representative. The event had the Anambra Sports Commission Chairman Chief Anthony Oli present. Also present were the ASFA led by the Vice Chairman Barr Sir JBC Obikwelu. The ARC Chairman and Vice were also present, alongside AIFL teams, Board, Staff, football lovers and the Media in their full swing.
Addressing the gathering, the Chairman of AIFL Rev Fr Obinna Dike traced the history of the AIFL as being a humble personal thought of how to rebrand grassroots football in Anambra in 2016. He said he later convoked a meeting of those he thought would be serious in football business in 2017 and sold the idea to them at FIDES Communications Coimplex Okpuno. The meeting yielded fruit as those invited decided to join hands together. Thus AIFL was founded.
“The AIFL maiden edition held in 2017 as an abridged league. Ten teams started and the season ended with nine with Nwaudo FC of Okija though operating from Gboko Benue State became champions in the finals played at FCIU Stadium Nnewi. The second edition 2017/2018 season had eleven teams. Udala FC of Uke who joined newly topped the league. The 2018/2029 season being the third season had Udala again as back to back champions” Fr Dike said.
Fr Dike said the season four play-off held late July with five teams ready to join the rest thirteen but would have some teams relegated at the end of the season. The AIFL Season 4 2019/2010 is to kick off in October this year. He appreciated the doggedness of all the participating teams for pulling through the last three seasons without a single sponsor. The league was run from the contributions and goodwill of the participating teams. He however assured that AIFL had become the beautiful bride as quality persons and groups were showing interest ahead of season 4.
Continuing, Fr Dike appreciated the Media that had selflessly given their services to AIFL, aligning with her dream. He mentioned such outstanding media and their sports anchors as Lumen Radio, Ogene FM, ABS TV/Radio, UNIZIK FM, Purity FM, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Blaze FM, Authority FM, Eko City FM, and in a very special way FIDES Newspaper that become the official news platform of the AIFL. Fr Dike commended the FIDES Director Fr Dr Martin Anusi for giving free access to all the hard and digital outlets of FIDES to the AIFL as their contribution to sports development. In addition, Fr Anusi received commendation for granting the AIFL the use of FIDES Complex as her temporary office all these years.
Special commendations were given to the ASFA propelled Sir JBC for being one of the motivating forces behind AIFL, as well as the ARC for being modest and understanding with their referee charges. Udala FC received the champions medals and trophy, DOSAD received first runner up medals, while Real Stars received the Fair Play award.
The sports commission chairman Chief Oli in his speech said he had been hearing about AIFL, but was highly impressed with what he saw on ground being at Adazi. He conveyed the goodwill of Governor Obiano and promised that he will personally mobilize the Anambra State government to add the sum of one million Naira to the season 4 prize money. He also promised to help craft a trophy that will bear semblance to the Anambra goals and objectives.
Earlier in his speech, Chief Oli said he strongly advocated that clubs should be run as separate enterprise outside of direct interference or ownership of government as done in civilized clime. He said the role of government would be to provide infrastructures and equipment that would complement the efforts of sports club owners. He said this would better reduce siphoning of public funds normally done through such sports establishments in Nigeria. He said his commission is trying its best to engineer a grassroots driven formula for the development of all sports in Anambra and called for key in into the plan from the public and sports stakeholders.
Sir JBC Obikwelu, the ASFA Vice Chairman in his speech applauded the AIFL for the journey so far in keeping Anambra state very busy with quality football. He maintained that the season 4 would see more collaboration with the AIFL, FA and NFF especially in the areas of discipline and development. He further commended the AIFL for helping Anambra talented youths secure football career in big leagues across the world and locally.
The AIFL Season 3 had thirteen teams that took part in the season that started in October 2019 and ended August 2019. The teams were: Udala FC of Uke, but based at Okpuno, and used Anambra State Polytechnic Mgbakwu field as their home ground. DOSAD FA of Enugwu Ukwu, owned by the Catholic Diocese of Awka , with their home groung and stead at St Anthony’s Catholic Church Enugwu Ukwu. Real Stars Football Club (FC) of Nnewi with their base at High School Field Nnewi. GP World Football Academy is also based in Nnewi with their playing ground at St John Cross Catholic Church Field at Egbo Nnewi. Ozalla Football Academy (FA) is based at Awada Onitsha with ground at St Charles school field Onitsha. Ifechikwulu FC is based at Omor Ayamelum with their playing ground at Central School Omor.
Other teams in the AIFL season 3 were: World FA of Nanka with home ground at Neros Stadium Nanka. Dynamic FA of Aguluzigbo played at Holy Queen Field Aguluzigbo. Graceland FC of Awgbu played at St Patrick’s Field Awgbu. Rangels FA of Achina played their home games at Ekwulobia Township Stadium. Samba FC of Amansea played at St Anthony’s field Amansea, while Mekon FC of Eziowelle played at Sports Complex Eziowelle.