Bayelsa State Governor, Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson, has assured that the Restoration Cup football tournament would be sustained beyond his tenure.
He made the pledge on Thursday in Yenagoa during the formal draws ceremony of the Third Governor Henry Seriake Dickson Football Tournament and presentation of kits to representatives of the 160 participating teams.
The Tournament Director, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, who is also his Special Adviser on Public Affairs, quoted the governor as calling on participating communities and organisations to exhibit sportsmanship during and after the competition.
He also charged the youths and leaders of the various communities to be peaceful during the games, noting that no one is a loser as the idea of the tournament is to come together to foster unity, brotherly love and friendship.
Governor Dickson, who described the Restoration Cup as a football talent development programme, commended the organisers, the Commissioner for Sports Development, Mr. Perekiye Buruboyefe, friends and partners for their efforts toward sustaining the competition.
He congratulated the Restoration Starlets picked from the 2018 edition, their technical crew and officials for the team’s performance at the Africa Youth Cup held in Cape Verde in April where they came third.
He assured the team of support while promising the players and technical crew cash reward for making the state and the nation proud.
His words: “I want to thank and appreciate those who have been coordinating this tournament, the Commissioner for Sports Development, sports experts, partners and especially the youths of our communities, who every year key into this football and talent development programme that has been running for three years.
“The Restoration Cup is a brainchild of friends, individuals in government, supporters and well-wishers. This competition will continue even after I have left office. It will be a new beginning because I will have more time to call on friends to come and support for the sake of the youths of this state.
“This year’s tournament will also be very peaceful and successful and I hope to grace the final. No one is a loser in this competition. The idea is to be a participant and be the best that you can be. Even if you don’t win a trophy or prize, you should know that you have won something by participating.”
In a welcome address, Commissioner for Sports Development, Mr. Perekiye Buruboyefe, thanked Governor Dickson for supporting the competition as well as other sports, including the ongoing 2019 Governor Seriake Dickson Wrestling Competition holding in Yenagoa, the state capital.
He said the previous edition was successful as players discovered were drafted to the Restoration Starlets, who have also qualified for the final of the state football league while some others have secured deals with professional clubs within and outside the country.
Presenting the Restoration Starlets, the Tournament Director, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, said the players are the product of the governor’s support for grassroots football and sports in general.
He appreciated the governor for providing funds for the team to travel and participate in the Africa Youth Cup, adding that the team not only represented Bayelsa but also Nigeria and emerged the third best team.
The 2019 edition of the Restoration Cup has 160 teams, comprising 131 communities, 23 churches, four organisations and two higher institutions, including the National Youth Service Corps, Nigerian Television Authority, Niger Delta University, Central Bank of Nigeria and the Ayalla Foundation.