In its bid to curb crimes in the Ikorodu axis of Lagos State, an Ikorodu-based church, Joy Cometh Ministries has introduced a football tournament to engage the youths who are said to be more in crime statistics.
Speaking at a press conference in Ikorodu recently to announce the maiden edition of the championship tagged ‘Pastor Lite’s Cup,’ founding Pastor of the ministry, Pastor Olaitan Aromolaran told the audience about his passion for youths.
“I had a vision of helping the youths to rescue them from going astray. When the idea of the football championship came, I saw it is an opportunity to reach out to the youths. This is a way we can engage the youths and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to them,” Aromolaran said.
He continued that, “I have seen a lot in the course of my ministry and since Jesus died for us, we have to show his love. The reason for this tournament is to engage the youths and make them see the importance of unity and enact the spirit of oneness. The tournament would also break the denominational barriers. I’m excited to see this vision come to reality.”
Aromolaran is someone not happy about the recent security concerns around Ikorodu and he hopes to see the situation improve by engaging the youths in positive activities. “I was somewhere recently and someone introduced himself that he was from Ikorodu and another person asked ‘oh Ikorodu of Badoo?’ I was so down casted and said negative things should not be associated with Ikorodu and I think this tournament would engage the youths and expose them to bigger opportunities,” he said.
Also at the event, one of the organisers and Pastor in the Church, Pastor Wilson confirmed that Ikorodu has been in the news in recent times. “You’ll agree, Ikorodu has been in the news for bad things,” he said, adding that, “It is not the old people who are involved in the Badoo cult or in kidnapping, they are the youths involved in these vices. This initiative started by Pastor Olaitan is coming at this time to engage the youths because once you affect one person in a family you affect all others.”
Talking about the achievements of the MFM footblall club of Agege, Lagos, Wilson said, “We are happy about the happening at MFM football club. If you have five football stars in a community, it could be a great thing. I personally know where a lot of guys who are doing well in football today would have ended but for football, they turned out well.”
Head of the Ikorodu Division Football Association, Alhaji Shonibare at the event appreciated Pastor Aromolaran and his entire team for bringing the championship to Ikorodu youths.
“I want to thank the pastor and the entire ministry for bringing this opportunity to Ikorodu. We cannot do it alone. We need more partners in bringing up the youths,” he said.
Aromolaran addressing the press at Ikorodu
Shonibare, who confirmed that sports is an important tool in curbing crimes said, “The DPO in Ikorodu has confirmed crime rates reduce whenever sporting activities are ongoing. He told us crime rates are always at the barest minimal during sporting events.”
He however appealed to all participating footballers to be responsible during the championship. “I am appealing to all players to be disciplined not to tarnish the image of the Church. Fighting of any kind is not allowed. Referees are human beings, they can make mistakes, do the needful, play your game, when you win you are happy and when you lose you have to be happy as well,” he advised.
Technical Director, Ikorodu Division Football Division, Chief Orelesi Fatai also advised participating teams to be cool headed during the championships. “The game of football is fair play. Let us play today so we can play another day. If we don’t play fair, we would be spectators in future. The Ikorodu Division Football Association is providing technical support and we must not let down the championship,” he said.
According to the organisers, the championship holding at the Strong Tower Academy pitch, Ikorodu is involving 18 football teams. The event would run for five weeks beginning from the first weekend of October and highlights of each match would be made available on YouTube channels for viewers around the world to see the talents on display.
Making known the rewards attached to the tournament, one of the organisers, Segun Ajiroba told journalists at the event that, “At the end of the tournament, the winner team would be presented the star prize, a trophy and N200,000, the first runner up would go with a sum of N150,000 while the second runner up would be rewarded with N70,000 and third runner-up would have a sum of N30,000. Other players to be rewarded include the best player of the tournament, the best goal keeper, the highest goal scorer. A total of 100 medals are for the championship.”