It was fanfare at the Nigeria Navy football pitch, Ajegunle Lagos at the weekend when over 20 primary and secondary schools gathered to vie for honours at the Fourth Eco11 Club Rugby Festival.
The one-day championship, organised to create awareness of the game among children at the grassroots level by the owner of EcoII Rugby Club, Musa Akor Dewu, also featured rugby tutorials for the youths in the area.
At the end of the festival, Nigeria Navy Primary School, Amuwo-Odofin Junior Secondary School, Ojoku High School (Girls), Toyibat Comprehensive High School (Boys) and Gosar Rugby Football Academy emerged champions in their various categories.
Dorcas Memorial Nursery/Primary School, Unity Junior High School, Araromi Secondary School (Girls), Dorcas Memorial College and ECOII Rugby Football Academy earned second positions in their categories.
Speaking at the event, the patroness of Eco11 Rugby Club, Alhaja Hadiza Musa said her United Kingdom-based son decided to use his club to initiate the rugby festival to ensure the sport got the needed popularity in schools and at the grassroots level.
She argued that if grassroots championships were not organised to discover young talents, rugby would go into extinction in Nigeria.“My family has to key into my son’s dream by ensuring rugby is known in Lagos and Nigeria. We want to make parents understand that the game of rugby is not as risky as they think and also it is only the rich.
“This is the fourth edition and Eco11 club management is delighted that more schools and children are interested in the sport. Eco11 Rugby Club needs more stakeholders in rugby to sponsor future editions of the championship so that the event would also take place in other parts of the country,” she said.
Also present at the occasion, Nigeria Rugby Football Federation’s (NRFF) General Manager, Michael Archer, who is also one of the coaches of Eco11 Rugby Club, commended parents for releasing their children to take part in the championship.
“I think the turn out of a large number of kids at the event has shown that the children are ready to take part in rugby. It was not easy for the coaches to train the children on the rudiments of the game, but with continuous emphasis, the kids began to enjoy the game. “Creating awareness of rugby at the school level would help discover more talents that would take over from the senior ones. With time, rugby in Nigeria would meet the international standard if tournaments like this were put in place across the country,” he said.
The Guardian NG