Shell Cup states finals kick off Jan 20

ALL is now set for the state finals of the 14th NNPC/Shell Cup All Nigeria Secondary School Football Championship across the nation come January 20.

With the deadline of team registration next Tuesday, the state finals across the country kicks off this month, while the zonal preliminaries hold from January 27 to 31. The yearly tourney, which has produced some of Nigeria’s notable stars, will have over 120,000 students in this year’s edition, which quarter-finals hold from February 9 to 12 at four centres.

The Garden City of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, will host the semi-finals and final from February 23 to 27. According to the HSE Vice President and Corporate Affairs of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), Tony Attah, the company is poised to keep faith with its resolve to continue supporting grassroots sports development in the country.

This, he insisted, would help the country regain its place in the world. Attah said the winner of this edition would smile home with N3.5 million, while the runner-up would get N2 million and third and fourth positions N1 million each.

“We are particularly challenged by several recent developments in Nigerian football and the accompanying call for the immediate intervention of stakeholders operating at secondary schools level,” he said.

“We wish to commend President Goodluck Jonathan for his initiative at bringing about a re-generation within our sports development structure, especially as it concerns football at the secondary school level throughout the country.

“For 14 years, we have believed in and promoted football as an essential curricular activity within our secondary schools and this has created a platform for other initiatives to build upon.

“We have recently been informed that in most states, the NNPC/Shell Cup state preliminaries in 2012 will also provide each state an opportunity to select the best players to eventually form their respective state football academicals teams.

“In effect, the competition will give rise to the state academicals teams that will in turn compete at the national level. For that reason, our competition has been timed to begin just before the national academicals competition kicks off across Nigeria.”

To curb the use of mercenaries, organiser of the championship, the Nigeria School Sports Federation (NSSF), has warned teams to resist the temptation of using ineligible students at this year’s event.

NSSF President, Ibrahim Mohammad, said that part of the measures to curb cheating would see the federation partner Sports Network Initiative in the registration and confirmation of biometrics of players.

Mohammad, who was represented by the NSSF Secretary General, Olabisi Joseph, said that checking age cheats became necessary considering the problem currently bedeviling Nigerian football, which she said the body wants to nip in the bud.

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Shell Cup states finals kick off Jan 20