President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed his administration’s commitment to use football for the development of the girl-child, and inspire young people to have rewarding careers in the game.
The President spoke Thursday while receiving the FIFA delegation led by its president, Gianni Infantino, and the president of Confederation of African Football (CAF), Patrice Motsepe, at State House, Abuja.
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He called on the top echelon of football’s world governing body to see Nigeria as one of its greatest assets when it comes to the development of football.
On women’s football, the President expressed delight that Nigeria has produced excellent role models to inspire the next generation of stars to take up the sport.
President Buhari, therefore, urged the leadership of the world football governing body to consider Nigeria top on its plan for support and investment.
The President, in a statement issued by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, told the visiting FIFA president, who is in the country for the six-nation Aisha Buhari Invitational Football Tournament, that since 2017, his administration had adopted football as a national asset.
He explained that the sport is being accorded the highest level of attention possible by the government to enable the rapid development of abundant talents in the country.
‘Aisha Buhari Cup in time’
On the Aisha Buhari Cup (ABC), with the theme “Playing for Good”, which is ongoing in Lagos, Buhari said the tournament could not have come at a better time.
The President thanked FIFA for making ABC, a ranking tournament, adding that he looks forward to more countries joining to participate in the future.
President Buhari, who described football as one of the greatest sources of unity in the country as well as in many parts of the world, said: “Our hearts beat as one anytime our teams are playing a football match.
“Our youth are always positively engaged when our national football teams are on assignment.
“Without any doubts here, football is a major tool of national unity.”
He pledged support for the latest FIFA initiative, the FIFA Connect programme which aims to drive football development at the grassroots using technology, assuring the football body’s top echelon of Nigeria’s active participation in the programme.
In his remarks, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, said Nigeria, as the leading black nation in the world, was central to all that FIFA is seeking to achieve in its football development plan.
In his remarks, Infantino renewed FIFA’s commitment to supporting the development of football in Nigeria, pledging to strengthen its partnership with the Nigeria Football Federation.
The FIFA president thanked President Buhari for supporting the development of the game, appealing to him to help FIFA amplify the message of football as a uniting force.