By Godwin Aikigbe
SAMDA will launch its sports programmes in April in Ghana with the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Football Tournament, featuring the U20 men’s and women’s teams from Nigeria, Cameroon, Liberia, and Ghana.
On the back of this will be a similar tournament in Nigeria as a tribute to the first Prime Minister of Nigeria, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.
This was a major resolution of a Zoom meeting on Sunday night, which lasted for about three hours. It was coordinated by the CEO of SAMDA, Tony Kona Fele, and featured heads of sports departments from the above-listed countries and SAMDA’s Chief Operating Officer, Nathan Y. Bellepea, who joined from Ankara, Turkey.
To this end, Fele urged each country to draw up a budget for the programme, to be submitted and deliberated upon at the next meeting in February.
Fele reckoned that the primary objective of the programme was to help talented African youths secure scholarships to “black universities” in the United States of America.
He said: “We have to launch in April and help some of these talented African youths get into some black universities in the United States of America.
“Soccer is the in thing and selling well in the USA, so we have to do our best to help them reach their potential and realize their dreams.
“To this end, Ghana, Cameroon, Liberia, and Nigeria are expected to raise teams in both male and female categories to compete in both tournaments in Ghana and Nigeria, where we will select African teams that will play their counterparts in the USA, so that the universities can watch and make their selection.”
This assertion was corroborated by the Chairman, African Sports and SAMDA Nigeria, Tajudeen Disu, who in his opening speech took the attendees down memory lane, reliving how he benefitted from a similar programme in the 1980s by getting a scholarship to A&M Alabama University in the USA along with several other former Nigeria U20 players, including Paul Okoku and Femi Olukani.
“As the chairman of sports, I would do my best to make this laudable program succeed. I have no doubt it will, given the calibre of persons involved and the desire and passion we have all exhibited so far,” said Disu, who is ready to work his socks off coordinating activities in Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, and Cameroon.
He continued: “I am a beneficiary of a similar programme through MKO Abiola, of blessed memory. Me and several other members of the Flying Eagles were able to gain scholarships to American universities, where we combined soccer with education.
“It worked for me, and I would make it work for the many soccer talents in West Africa.”
The meeting that preceded a more elaborate one slated for January 14 had the following people in attendance:
Tony Kona Fele, CEO, SAMDA and Nathan Y. Bellepea, Chief Operating Officer, SAMDA.
Solomon Manu Ofori, Head of Boxing Africa, and Reginald Asante, Vice Head of Sports Africa, and Head of Sports in Ghana.
Mbah Zogo Oliver, Head of Sports in Cameroon.
Tajudeen Disu, Chairman, African Sports, Chairman, SAMDA, Nigeria, and Godwin Aikigbe, Assistant Head of Media Africa, Head of Media, SAMDA Nigeria.
John Nyan, James Swen, and Steve Sirwheeye