Super Eagles and Sivasspor new signee, Elderson Echiejile has backed grassroots football as a major source for identifying and developing sport prodigies in the country. Echiejile said this at the launch of his 100 Smiles initiative and age-grade football competition aimed at developing the skills of indigent children in Edo state.
Deputy Governor of the state, Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu who was the special guest at the event, which held on Saturday at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin, reiterated the government’s policy of making the state an export hub for sports talents in Nigeria.
Echiejile who just got signed by the Turkish side ,Sivasspor, awarded football scholarships and certificates to the top 11 players encouraged the over 250 children participants to stay in school and to also remain focused on enhancing their skills. He explained that one of the key things that was able to take him far in his career was the belief in himself, regardless of his background. The 100 smiles initiative focuses on the empowerment of indigent Nigerian children between the ages of 5 and 16 through sports development.
Rt. Hon. Shaibu advised the participants to combine education with their love for sports, for them to have other options to fall back on when they end their football careers. Rt. Hon. Shaibu encouraged other foreign based professionals to emulate Echiejile by coming back to their roots and help the youngsters get to the peak of their careers. On loan Porto star and fellow Super Eagles player Mikel Agu also graced the event to lend support to the initiative.