Abuja Elites League breaking new grounds in European football marketPublished: May 08, 2023
One of the most difficult things to do in Africa is to organise a proper football league. Especially in Nigeria, it is extremely difficult, poor infrastructures, lack of sponsorship, lack of proper organisation, poor officiating, poor traveling arrangement and many more are the agents militating against football leagues in this part of the world.
So, when a group of people come together to organise a befitting U20 league and they've done it successfully over the weekend in Abuja, they must be proud of their effort. The first edition of the Abuja Elites League has come to an end and yes, the organisers are extremely excited about the prospect of the project and the possibility of success there lies ahead.
For Mohamed Kamarudeen, Chairman Turf Arena football club, to organise a league that ran for eight months is huge in Africa.
“So, we've been having conversations about this league since last year, about our plans to want to develop not to go outside the context of what the FA does, just to align with some of the things that they currently do. We felt it was important to have an elongated league that will run for at least 10 months. The way it is done in Europe and in other climes, whereby we give the players enough time to get engaged and also mingle with the FA organised footballing activities in the FCT.
“Today is the final day of the league and just like every competition, we've had various challenges and a whole lot of high points.
One of the biggest setbacks we had was lack of infrastructures, because we've had all 10 teams play home and away, some teams don't necessarily have home grounds, but had to make do with makeshift home grounds. That was one of the critical setbacks, secondly is funding like every other thing, we try to structure the league in this first edition so that all 10 teams contribute equally towards the success of the league the financial involvement.
“In terms of high points, we have successfully organised a league that spans the length of 7 to 8 months and our goal is to have a second edition that will span over 10 months,” Kamarudeen said.
For Ghassan KHAWAJa, Technical Director Derby FA, European clubs already taking notes of the Abuja Elite League.
“We started this league as an under 20 football league and I think the first addition has been very successful. I can tell you that our YouTube channel has all the videos maybe 18 weeks videos, as our objective is to promote players to club in Europe.
“For my club Derby FA, we already have three invitations from Europe for three players already and some for trial sessions. How did we do it? You can watch the league and pick the best players from teams; we have all the statistics of the games and this have been very helpful to all the teams. We present this information to scout, it is not about coming to Nigeria for 1 to 4 days of player scouting, it is scouting for the whole year, this is the concept of the league.
“The league is for the under 20s and we know that in Nigeria it is difficult to have a league or to see a league for under 20s that is played throughout the season, this is the difference of our league from the others.
“Next season, we have the objective to have a selected team from the league to go to an international tournament to represent the league and this will help teams to promote their players, Ghassan a foreign FIFA instructor said.
For the proprietor Galadima FC, Abubakar Ibrahim Galadima, sponsors are already lining up to key into the project.
“It has completely transformed my team, we started gradually and we ended second at the end of the season, which is a good one.
Everyone is very happy with the team and not only Galadima FC, all the teams that participated if you asked, the players kept improving to the last day of the season.
“Due to infrastructure problems, would have loved to increase the number of teams to 16 or make it 20 as a standard league, but where will teams play matches? Pitches are not readily available, thank God for Turf Arena, about 17 team made this place their home, which is very difficult. “Definitely would love to extend the number of teams but we don't have the capability right now.
“About sponsorship for the second edition, we will try to make sure we bring in sponsorship especially from outside the country to make the league more glamorous because financially it has been very difficult, but by the grace of God this time around, we would have a sponsor. Already we have started discussions with an airline and they have agreed to be part of the league for next season, he said.
HB Academy won the maiden edition of the Abuja Elites League.
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