Ekiti state literally stood still at the weekend as Ekiti state football association brought the creme dela creme of Nigerian football into Ado-Ekiti, the state’s capital, to celebrate Governor John Kayode Fayemi on his birthday.
The fun filled day gave the impressive crowd at the Oluyemi Kayode stadium, lots of music, dance and of course, raw, entertaining and exciting football matches that had the crowd on the edges of their seats.
JKF, as the Ekiti state governor is called took the official kick off and also cut the beautiful cake presented by members of the NYSC and Ekiti FA, with assistance by some of the dignitaries including NFF 1st Vice president and Chairman of Lagos FA, Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi, Ekiti FA boss, Bayo Olanlege, as well as, Ekiti state Commissioner of Youth and Sports Development, Michael Awopetu.
In the first match, the Ekiti State chapter of the Okada riders association annihilated the Ekiti state artisans association 6-1. And in the main event, Ekiti state football association U16 team, named EKITI BEES played out a pulsating 1-1 draw against South Western Nigeria U16 selected side also interestingly called “Young Panthers”.
The match saw the lads displaying unbridled skill and techniques to the admiration of the dignitaries and the spectators. The “Panthers” made their fluid play and domination count as Faruk Balogun delicately chipped the ball over on rushing Tijani Azeez who was in goal for Ekiti Bees.
The EKSFA U16 responded by taking the game to their opponents and created several goal scoring opportunities that were repeatedly fluffed by the attackers. In one of the moves, Ogunjobi Kehinde missed a sitter after a surging run into the box.
However, in the 42nd minute, Ekiti Bees got the deserved equaliser through captain Olorunfemi Olayanju who cooly slotted ball into the net from the penalty spot with after mesmerising striker, Ogunjobi Kehinde was tripped in the box.
In the 55th minute, play was halted and the spectators rose to give the celebrant a clapping ovation that resonated around the stadium. While the NYSC band played soft tunes, amidst spectacular fireworks also on display.
On the resumption of play, it was end to end stuff by both sides that equally kept the two goalies busy, as they were made to make strings of jaw dropping saves to keep the scoreline even. Expectedly, too, the most valuable player of the 2019 JKF youth cup Damilola Adeyeye, who was the cynosure of all eyes, delighted the fans with his dribbles, wide range of passes and impressive displays on the evening.
Speaking with the press, Dr. Kayode Fayemi expressed delight with the progress of grassroots football in the state so far and promised that his administration will continue to support this progress. He further appreciated the organizers for putting up the event.
On her path, the First Lady of the state, Erelu Bisi Fayemi also promised that she will adopt the Ekiti State football association U16 team, the Ekiti Bees.
In his own remark, the Ekiti FA chairman, Mr. Bayo Olanlege appreciated the governor, his wife, the deputy governor and other top government functionaries for gracing the occasion and praised their impacts on football in developing football in Ekiti.
Olanlege was also full of appreciation for the football administrators and stakeholders from the Southwest of Nigeria led by the 1st Vice-President of NFF and Chairman of Lagos State Football Association, Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi, Otunba Tade Azeez, President Nigeria Referees Association, Oba James Adeniran (Oyo State FA), Alhaji Ganiyu Majekodunmi ( NFF executive board Member /Chairman Ogun State FA), Chief Mustapha Rasak ( Osun State FA), and other FA secretaries present at the event.