The executive board of Benue State Football Association (BSFA), led by its chairperson Rt. Hon. (Mrs) Margaret Icheen has honoured the 1st Vice President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Barr. Seyi Akinwunmi, with a special award as “Father of Nigeria Grassroots Football”.
Presenting the award during the closing ceremony of 2022 Ratels/Benue state League, sponsored by Ratels Sports Development Foundation (RSDF), the FA Chairperson, a former Speaker of Benue state House of Assembly showered encomiums on Barr. Akinwunmi for his giant and steady strides especially in developing grassroots football in Nigeria.
Rt. Hon Icheen said the state FA would continually support the Lagos-based football administrator who is also the chairman of Youth football development of NFF.
“I sincerely appreciate Barr. Seyi for all he does for the growth and development of Nigerian football especially in Benue state. It is our honour bestow on you this award as the father of Grassroots football in Nigeria.
“We will continue to support you now and always because you have always been there for us and everything good for football in this country,” she said.
Responding, Barr. Akinwunmi, who is also the chairman of Lagos State Football Association acknowledged the honour done to him and assured of his readiness to do more.
He said, “First of all I would like to say well done to the entire football family of Benue State for their support for their State FA over the past few years even in the face of the dearth of funds.
“In thanking the Benue FA, I will like to reserve special praise for the amazon who is the Chairman of the FA, she is someone you all should be proud of as she has represented you well at the National level and despite being the only woman in a sphere currently dominated by men, she has been able to stand toe to toe with us all on any issue she believes in.”
Talking about why he has special interest in grassroots football development, Barr. Akinwunmi said, “Grassroots football is the womb of football in the country, it is from here that football development is birthed. Therefore competitions like this one need to be encouraged across the country and all
“State Football Associations need to be empowered to do even more than the herculean task they already carry out.
“An investment of time and/or money in football is an investment in our children, an investment in hope for the indigent child, an investment in peace and integration within the community and within the country, an investment in the future of Nigerian Football and the future our dear beloved country.”
The Benue State FA also honoured other deserving individuals, just as the association received accolades and special recognition award from other reputable organisations including Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, Benue State Chapter.