The fourth edition of the rebranded Restoration Cup, now known as the Prosperity Cup has kicked off at the Samson Siasia Sports Complex in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
Addressing participants on Monday, Governor Douye Diri charged the 206 teams at the grassroots football tournament to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship, fair play and ensure they give their best.
While performing the official opening of the competition, Governor Diri described sports as an integral part of every society and expressed optimism that the tourney will not only curb youth restiveness, but create opportunities for exceptional players who may want to pursue a career in football.
The opening day action of the The Prosperity Cup lived up to expectation with a keenly contested match between the defending champions, Okolobiri Community, and newcomers, Bayelsa Medical University FC. The debutants eventually had the last laugh as they defeated their opponent by two goals to one, to pass a message to other participants that they are not in the competition to make up the numbers, but to make a mark on their debut.
Goals from Godwin Francis in the 32nd minute and Ebi James’s volley in the 66th minute, ensured that the Bayelsa Medical University students were victorious on the opening day, while Benedict Berekubo pulled one back for the defending champions.
The governor expressed confidence that the tournament will promote peace and unity in the state
“And I implore all of you who are participating, and as you know that the game is fair play. I wish all of you the participating teams, good luck,” he stated.
“This is a competition that you need to put in your all, you wouldn’t know those who are coming to watch you, you wouldn’t know those who are coming to scout for players. This is a competition that can expose you nationally and internationally.
“And for the ministry and the organisers, I will like to appreciate you and thank you for ensuring that this year did not pass us by. This competition should have been held last year, but for unforeseen circumstances, we could not commence it last year.”
In his remarks, the Commissioner for Youths and Sports Development, Hon. Daniel Igali, attributed the success of the sporting sector to the commitment and support of the governor to sports being a one-time Commissioner for Sport in the State.
The Director General of the Prosperity Cup, Mr. Ono Akpe, provided more information on the structure and format of the competition.
He said, “The tournament will run for six weeks and we anticipate that the final will be played on June 12. For now, we have 20 centres across the State. 16 teams will emerge from the centres and will play until the final at this very stadium.
“We expect a lot of national and international scouts in the last phase, the quarter finals, semifinals and final, while our own local scouts will be with us from the beginning of this match till the end of the tournament.”
Action will continue on Friday in the selected 20 match centers, across the eight local government areas of Bayelsa State.