The stage is now set for the maiden edition of the Higher Institutions Football League (HIFL) scheduled to hold across university campuses in Nigeria. Games in the league are on track to begin on the 28th of July, 2018 as planned.
President of the Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA), Professor Stephen Hamafyelto who made the announcement in a statement recently, assured football lovers across the country of an interesting competition as the games kick off.
“We are happy we are finally kicking off the games. At the end of this maiden edition, we hope to have convinced our sponsors and indeed Nigerians that collegiate sports is ripe in Nigeria. Then, we may be thinking of expanding the fixtures as HiFL is a very good platform to achieve these objectives. With our level of preparation, we are sure of success.”
He added that “HiFL will complement the efforts of NUGA to bring back the good old days of competitive inter-school games with all the excitement therein. Although, we are starting with football, which may be described as the pivot of Nigerian sports, we hope to expand to other sports later. This is firmly in our plans”.
In a bid to grow collegiate sports in Nigeria, HIFL was launched in February 2018 by PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing as an international event in Lagos. In his remarks on the objectives of the competition, Director, PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing, Mr. Sola Fijabi said the league is part of attempts to engender youth development in Nigeria.
“HIFL is a part of the collective effort at youth development in Nigeria. We are prepared for this maiden edition and we are very hopeful that it will have positive impact on sports and education in Nigeria. We hope to place collegiate sports in Nigeria on the same pedestal obtainable in other countries that have recorded successes and built a strong network of young, home-grown football talents” Fijabi said.
Speaking on the opportunities that HIFL opens up for participating schools, CEO, GWG Sports Centre Limited and Technical Consultant, Higher Institutions Sports League (HiSL), Alhaji Ahmed Shuaibu Gara Gombe said, that the league will provide a viable platform to discover amazing football talents from the participating schools.
“During the league, arrangements have been made to have local and international networks of scouts, coaches and trainers watch the games to discover and groom outstanding students who wish to grow their careers in football. We are on the lookout for these exceptional talents and we are committed to providing them the needed support to help them grow in their career” Gombe concluded.
Meanwhile, former FIFA referee, Dr. Alex Sule Mana has been unveiled as the Director, Officiating and Arbitration for the 2018 season. Mana, a veteran of many games has assured that the games will witness standard officiating as the games officials will be carefully selected across zones for that purpose by the Main Organising Committee.
The 2018 edition of the Higher Institutions Football League will offer participating schools an opportunity to enjoy a first-hand experience of the first organised collegiate football league in Nigeria.
HiFL is endorsed by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the National Universities Commission (NUC) and Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA). The winner of HIFL will represent Nigeria at the International University Sports Federation games in Naples, Italy.