It was a gathering of crème de la crème as far as football administration is concerned in Nigeria when the initiative, Malaga CF/Ilaji FC Project, aimed at showcasing talented footballers to the world, was unveiled in Ibadan.
The historical unveiling ceremony, which was held at the Conference Hall of Ilaji Hotels and Sports Resort had in attendance, the former Minister of Sports in Nigeria, Prof. Taoheed Adedoja as the Chairman of the event, ably represented by former Secretary General of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Chief Bolaji Ojo Oba; former Super Eagle Coach and FIFA and CAF Instructor, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde and Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly, Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin, who was also represented by Chairman, Committee on Youth and Sports, Hon. Hon. Fola Oyekunle.
Also in attendance were ex-Super Eagles players and goal keeper, Felix Owolabi (MON), Mutiu Adepoju, Ike Shorunmu, Femi Opabunmi and former U-17 star, Muyiwa Lawal. Others include the Special Adviser to Governor Seyi Makinde on Youths and Sports, Kazeem Bolarinwa, Zonal Coordinator, Federal Ministry of Sports, South West Zone 1, Femi Ajao, President General, Nigeria Supporters’ Club, Rafiu Ladipo, and Chairman, Oyo State Sports Council, Hon. Gbenga Adewusi.
The brain behind the initiative and Chief Executive Officer of Ilaji Hotel and Sports Resort, Engr. Dotun Sanusi, said that the Malaga CF/Ilaji FC Project is to create a better platform for talented footballers in Nigeria to have a easy passage to international clubs to showcase their talent.
He disclosed that the Resort has provided the best coaching crew to make use of already on ground facilities that are of international standard to discover, train and nurture the raw talents to the stardom.
Chief Sanusi reiterated that the choice of Malaga CF/Ilaji FC collaboration was born out of the similar football ideology shared by both teams with a view to discovering raw talents and consequently nurture them to stardom.
“We have started the journey of taking our youths from the grass roots, out of the streets and putting them in the right future in terms of sports.
“We have formed alliance with well known in the world, the biggest league, La Liga, Malaga CF. Malaga is not a team that is just well known, they have vision that is parallel with us, how to make use of raw talents, build the raw talents and become the most useful in terms of football in the whole world,” Engr. Sanusi stated.
Chief Bolaji Ojo Oba, who represented the Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Tahoeed Adedoja, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde, Chief Rafiu Ladipo and ex-footballers lauded the initiative of the Ilaji Sports Resort Chairman, Engr. Sanusi.
Ojo Oba expressed that the responsibilities attached to sports is beyond what government alone can take care, stating that it warranted the gesture from the people like Engr. Sanusi to come in.
The former NFF Secretary General, while commending the idea, said that it will go a long way in exposing not only the players but also the entire technical and coaching crew to international best practices in sports event.
In his submission, former FIFA and CAF Technical Instructor, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde, described the collaboration between Malaga CF and Ilaji FC as a developmental programme that will establish a solid foundation for the game of football.
He commended Engr. Sanusi for thinking out of the box in terms of giving his best to develop sports activities from the grass roots.
The President General, Nigeria Supporters’ Club, Chief Rafiu Ladipo, said that effort and initiative of Engr. Sanusi is to give back to the people, to build Nigeria of tomorrow and to build the leaders of tomorrow.
He noted that talents discovery, training and exposing them to the world where they will become good ambassadors and bread winners of their families is tantamount to contributing positively to the social-economic development of Nigeria, which he said will go a long way in reducing rate of kidnapping, robbery and other crimes and criminalities in the country.
In his welcome address, the Chief Operating Officer of the Ilaji Hotels and Sports Resort, Prince Adesina Araoye, disclosed that Ilaji and Hotels and Sports Resort is an outfit that is stand on a trident of hospitality, entertainment and sports.
He said that the purpose of today’s event is to ensure that every child is given an opportunity to exhibit his God-given talents as was conceived by the chairman.
“That was what led to the birth of Ilaji Sports in general and Ilaji Soccer Academy in particular. Ilaji Soccer Academy has since grown in leaps and bounds within a short period of time. With a standard stadium, a well equipped gym, a classrooms for academic education of the children, Ilaji Soccer Academy is set to revolutionize football academy in Nigeria,” Araoye concluded.
Highlights of the event were the official unveiling of the Malaga CF/Ilaji FC logo and online procedures for registration.
Other dignitaries present at the event were; Former Super Eagles midfielder and La Liga ambassador in Nigeria, Mutiu Adepoju; former Super Eagles goalkeeper, Ike Shorunmu and former Golder Eaglet Star, Femi Opabunmi and a host of others.