INTERVIEW: We are committed to the development of Beach Soccer –Oladimeji

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The Grand Patron of Kwara Beach Soccer Association, Prince Oladimeji Thompson believes Kwara is making history with Beach Soccer, especially after the state team’s heroics at the recently concluded 3rd Round of the Beach Soccer League in Patigi. He spoke to sportsbash.com.ng on the ground already broken, and way forward for the game

From conventional football to Beach Soccer, how easy was the switch?

It’s just because I like anything that has to do with sports, especially football. I will continue to invest in the development of the game, and in any way I can add value to humanity.

And again, we are talking about the youth and ways to empower them, so that they can be taken off the streets. Football in whatever form, is a unifying factor and one of the most followed sport. It brings people together irrespective of age, ethnicity, religion and other barriers.

Those are the factors that really motivated me to support the game and Kwara Beach Soccer team. We started gradually, and now we are in the League. And in the League, we had the opportunity of hosting the third round in Kwara state. I want to thank all those that have us the support when we hosted the league in Patigi.

I want to specially thank the Emir of Patigi, the Pro-Chancellor of the Ahman Patigi University Hon. Bahago Pategi, Kwara state Government who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Sports and Youth Development, Mrs Iyabo Funke Banire and the Vice Chancellor, Professor Mahfouz Adedimeji for the backing in term of hosting and organization of the 3rd round of the Nigeria Beach Soccer League.

What would you say about football and Beach Soccer?

Beach Soccer is another form of football game in itself. Conventional football and Beach Soccer are similar, except the numbers of players vary. One is played on the sand with bare foot, while the other is being played on the pitch. But altogether, Beach Soccer comes with lots of fun because you play on sand with bare foot. Beach Soccer is growing in Nigeria, and the advantage is, it’s recognized world over, and we have world competitions. In Nigeria, we have the League, which will be rounded off in Kaduna very soon. It will be a continuous exercise. Also coming with the awareness the facilities and this is being constructed in some states now.

For the third round league here, we partnered Ahman Patigi University to have it hosted. The game is spreading, and we have to make a lot of sacrifice to complement the efforts of the government, because government alone cannot shoulder the responsibilities of developing sports and the youth.

For me, it’s another platform to give back to the society. We still need government to assist us in various ways. Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq is doing well in sports, and we do hope he will extend it to Beach Soccer.

From Abuja to Lagos, Kebbi and Kwara, how was the challenge?

It’s challenging on all fronts, but because the youth are involved, we have to continue to sacrifice, just like I said earlier. We are also using that to support the government of the day. I am not doing it alone. I have other people with me. We have the Board, under the able leadership of Alhaji Abdullateef Adebowale Adedeji, Mrs Abimbola Olaoye, Mrs Hafsat Yusuf, Rasheed Saraki and others. It’s a collective thing. I am just the Grand Patron; it’s not about me alone. We also got support from corporate individuals and organizations to make the Patigi project a reality.

Are you planning to have local competitions in Kwara state?

Yes, we are also looking at the aspect of adding female Beach Soccer team, so as to have both. We have test run Beach Soccer in Kwara, and its working. We now have a Beach Soccer pitch in Patigi, and the support for the game there is tremendous. We also have Beach Soccer field at the Kwara State Stadium Complex, which we plan to build on. But we are doing all these gradually. We also plan to approach people to help us develop the game in the state. We cannot do it all alone. The government too will support us. The tendency is there because the Governor loves sports. We have convinced people enough with the Patigi competition, and we hope to build positively on that.

How supportive is the game by the Nigeria Football Federation?

Everything is under the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), and they are giving Beach Soccer the needed support. They are giving us all the needed encouragement.

At the Elegushi Beach in Lagos, member of world football governing body, FIFA’s Council, Executive Committee Member of CAF and President of the NFF, Amaju Melvin Pinnick officially kicked off the new Nigeria Beach Soccer League. The League, which is the baby project of the Amaju Pinnick-led Board, is also supported by Beach Soccer Worldwide, and Africa Beach Soccer Union.

Also present at the kick off was the NFF 1st Vice President, Barr Seyi Akinwunmi, Nigeria Beach Soccer League Coordinator, Mahmoud Hadejia and other officials.

At the NFF Congress in Benin, a Committee was put in place to add value to Beach Soccer, and that’s when the league was introduced.

How prepared is Kwara team for the play-off in Kaduna?

The team is there and ready. We are prepared for the challenge. They have been training, and we hope to make huge impact in Kaduna. The players will be well motivated as usual, ahead of the challenge.

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