Sports Development: Zenith Bank on the zenith

By Daily Sports on March 27, 2017

Zenith Bank is on my mind today. Today, the giant strides of the big institution in sports development are in focus. We in Daily Sports are always thrilled when it comes to young ones’ development.

As we go along to unveil the bold step of the influential player in the financial services sector of the economy, you will without any prejudice come to terms and thumb up the bank’s concerted efforts to join hands to bring back the lost glorious days of the Principals Cup and it’s front line role to the rapid growth of grassroots football in the country.

Babies of that diamond era (1970s and 80s) of this once upon a time great nation including yours in sports knew the dripping contributions the Principals Cup made on the sands of time in our football and the discoveries that I wouldn’t want to stress you with. What went wrong mid-way, we equally can tell. I will digress a bit to refresh your minds on very few of the important events of last week that made headlines.

I’m even tired of writing about deaf and dumb administrators who learn nothing and forget nothing.

Indeed, Daily Sports family, you inclusive, is glad about our fore-front reportage and update on ailing Coach, Kelechi Emeteole. The intervention fund is swelling. The fund raising target for his surgery in India would be met. We hereby salute all those that have identified with, and those that will still identify with his bid to survive the life threatening throat cancer. Thank you all for being your brother's keeper!

Last week, Nigeria’s representatives in this year’s CAF Champs League, Rangers and Rivers United were booted out rather very shamefully.

Rangers’ fate was predicted in one of our write-ups here, that they will meet their waterloo in the hands of the Egyptian giant, Zamalek. And it came to pass. Rangers have no capacity, so far as this season is concerned. In short we saw it coming.

For Rivers United, theirs was a painful ouster, they had a 3 - 0 advantage over their Sudanese counterparts only to squander them there before you could say Victor Moses.

The team’s head coach owes us explanation. He is an experienced gaffer and his side was the most prepared for the tournament. His performance in Sudan left a sour taste in the mouth. He gave the impression that the 3 - 0 goal margin in Port Harcourt was a fluke.

The result was heart breaking and it is safe to ask, did they go there for tourism and sightseeing? Rivers United did not justify the investment made on them at all. It again, leaves a big question mark on the true growth of our domestic football and its champs.

Therefore, this column is not giving them any chance in the second tier of the CAF competition, in which their opponents are known. They are low flying teams with no championship stuff at all. Both will drop off early, a replica of the Champions League version. I’m no prophet of doom but an incurable realist. I don’t see them proving me wrong, but if at the end of the day they manage, so what? There, I drop the anchor on these huge disappointing and unreliable club sides.

Remember we say Zenith Bank has the week and it is still on our radar, so let’s get cracking.

"Zenith Bank bankrolls Principals Cup, restates commitment to sports development," was the catchy headline of last Sunday and it came handy to brighten my day off the bad news called Rangers and Rivers United.

We all know how the bank has fared since it made a triumphant entry into the financial services sector. Without much ado, it has kept faith with its other Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR).

Let me recap that this page celebrates resourcefulness, perseverance, resilience, hold and all tone- setting trappings the youths and our young ones can emulate for positive thinking and growth. Zenith Bank has encouraged the willing ones in football, basketball and ICT over the years.

It absolutely gladdened my heart when I read that Zenith Bank Plc ventured into the sponsorship of Principals Cup in Delta State and restated its commitment to the development of sports in Nigeria, promising to invest more in unearthing young talents.

The Deputy Managing Director of the bank, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, stated this as the Delta State Principals Cup sponsored by the bank got underway in Asaba, Delta State capital recently. Let’s quickly observe here that the presence of the DMD lent credence to the level of importance the bank attached to the summit.

We don’t need to look too far to know that actually there is no championship it has put its hands in sponsoring that has suffered setbacks. It is one bank that cares so much about its image and so guides it so jealously.

It would be recalled that Zenith Bank is the headline sponsor of the National Women Basketball League, having bankrolled it for 12 years. The bank also recently launched an under-13 football tournament in partnership with the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) aimed at catching young talents.

Onyeagwu, who was in Asaba for the formal opening ceremony of the maiden Delta State Principals Cup, said the gesture was to fulfil the bank’s corporate social responsibility, adding that the bank has bias for youth development., true talk, the records are.

According to him, Zenith Bank’s passion for youth empowerment programmes has seen it intervene in areas like ICT, and sports development, adding that in the last twelve years the bank has “singlehandedly sponsored and supported female basketball league nationally.” Yes, Women Basketball just existed in name but in reality na lie. It was not competitive until the advent of the bank. Today, the story of Women Basketball in the country is upbeat. Daily Sports has done series of stories and write-ups in this regard saluting its selfless and towering status.

The DMD added that sponsorship of the Zenith Bank Delta Principal Cup was a move to recapture the core value and the competition’s lost glory. He insisted that the Principals Cup in the 1970’s and 1980’s was the epitome of sports development.

According to him, “for Zenith Bank Principals Cup sponsorship, we looked at it and felt that it is time for us to bring back its lost sweet memories. In those glorious days of the 1970’s and 1980’s Principal Cup was the epitome of sports development. We felt that by and partnering with Delta State to refresh, rejuvenate and revitalise sports development we will provide the opportunity for talents to be developed, nurtured, and it is an opportunity for us to make it a lot more expansive, make it all inclusive, complement the state’s efforts in terms social development and also create a basis for standardisation in the school’s curriculum.”

Onyeagwu said the Zenith Bank Delta Principal’s Cup will unearth sporting talents that can be nurtured and encouraged to reach their fullest potentials of sporting excellence, stressing, “the Sunday Olisehs, Stephen Keshis and so many other talents abound in the state.”

Hear Onyeagwu, the “sole essence for us is to help Delta State and individual proprietors of private schools to see how we can bring back sports development to where it was in the golden era of yester years.”

He further explained that the bank’s sponsorship was for the long term, emphasising that Zenith Bank’s values of fairness, professionalism will guarantee future involvement.

His words: “Everything we do we do with all our hearts, with a whole lot of commitment.” That aspect of long term stuff as restated by the bank has the full applause of the diehard fans of the Principals Cup and the beautiful game. As the Principals Cup is being reinvented in Delta State, its life wire, Zenith Bank incidentally is a long distance runner that does not indulge in half measures or under-funding of projects. The above was re-echoed by Onyeagwu thus: “The Bank is going to be in the long haul. What we crave for is fairness, professionalism; we will not encourage hooliganism, mercenaries for as long as it is developed, nurtured professionally, be sure that this partnership will be for the long haul.”

In the same vein, Delta Commissioner for Secondary and Basic Education, Chiedu Ebie, was on hand to respond accordingly. He stressed the importance of academic prowess in the development of a child, but noted that sports and extra-curricular activities also play great roles in the development of a child.

He said one of the aims of the Principal’s Cup was to help improve schools sports in Delta State, especially in public schools.

“We all know the significance of sports in education and in the development of the child and so as much as we will like to ensure that academic prowess is given its rightful position, sports and extra-curricular activities play very crucial role in the advancement of a child. One of the things we set out to achieve was to see how we can improve school sports in Delta State, especially in public schools.”

The very elaborate ceremony, had also the Managing Director, Hideapluxx, Tony Oritse-Pemu, who openly confessed he was motivated to provide a platform to showcase their talents, in a bid to encourage youths to channel their enormous energy and talents from social vices into productive ends.

He remarked that the Zenith Bank Principals Cup is a junior tier football championship for all public/private schools, adding that it is a project to revive and steady the game of football at secondary school level.

Pemu said the competition was created to “create a long career presence for youths in their football life, drastically squeeze down societal vices and homeland crimes which is often inspired by high idle time and ultimately it is designed as a means of encouraging academic excellence.”

Head or tail, the enthusiasm in the air is electrifying. Behold, Zenith Bank has come. It is on familiar terrain and would smoothly embark on a journey to bring back to life, those nitty-gritty moments that cast Principals Cup ideals on glittering stone that holds teeming fans of the round leather game spell bond.

One lasting condition by the sponsor that this column must highlight is its instructive emphasis on fair and level playing field championship that would be devoid of age cheating and those other ugly practices that have suddenly, through dubious officials, crept into our polity presently and football is no exception.

The Zenith Bank chief categorically said that if those kill sport and other abnormalities are taken care of, he would advocate the competition should be allowed to run its full course. Only such honourable step would guarantee its longevity and then enable the bank to engrave it into its yearly major sponsorship calendar. To be honest with you the above is frank talk which everyone that wishes this category of football well should abide by and also embrace wholesale.

No pretence in any form whatsoever about it. The focus is to re-invent this once upon a time all-conquering, well accepted, strong and powerful grassroots football platform strictly built jealously on truth, authenticity and fair play which upped the competition to greater importance in the country then.

It can be done again if the actors so wish. The bottom line here is that Zenith Bank in its characteristic wisdom coupled with its human face stance has again provided the leeway that must be utilised judiciously for the sake of the youths who may at the end of the day make football their career.

From whatever angle you may be looking at it, even the worse critics of the bank have agreed for once that it has done exceedingly well for our youths. Sports Pulse thumbs up Zenith Bank for its constant choice as a northern star. Its staying power at the zenith is stimulating.

As usual, discussion continues on Twitter and WhatsApp. Keep shooting hard, till next week!!

Source Daily Sports

Posted March 27, 2017


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