The Dodomayana Soccerthon, an initiative of legendary former Super Eagles goalkeeper and captain Prince Peter Rufai is a project meant for players between the ages of 18 and 21 by the initiator to give back to the society whom he claimed helped him when he was a nobody to becoming a legend of the game both home and abroad, is a sharp contrast to what you will expect from an ex-international.

The Dodomayana train kicked started in 2016 touring different state of the country such as cross river, Imo, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Abuja, Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Enugu, Kwara, Kebbi and Anambra to scout for different players that will form a team to represent and compete for the different states.

The players who are greenhorns, relatively inexperienced paid eventually to get their names into the final list of the particular states they were to represent because there were constant postponement due to the issue of the Boko Haram, death of Ex-Super Eagles international Stephen Keshi and Shaibu Amodu, so originally selected or hopeful players gave up on the process and moved on in their football careers which were emotionally drained for a lot of them.

The Dodomayana Soccerthon project got different notable sponsors like Spar, FCMB, Indomie and Daraju investment limited who invested based on the goodwill of the initiator but so many irregularities occurred before, during and after the maiden edition staged in Lagos at the Agege Stadium from the 23rd to 27th April 2019.

The draws and press conference held on the 18th of April 2019 at the Ilbis Hotel Airport Road, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria at 11 am but didn’t start till past midday in which the Lagos State Sports Commission was represented and other officials of the sponsors.

The poorly organized tournament didn’t kick off on the 23rd as planned as a result of jersey non-availability from printers with players, coaches and officials and journalist put in the dark with the new development, the tournament kick-started on the 24th with the original program and fixture distorted as a result of the initial postponement of the kick-off date.

The players and officials of the different states were camped and accommodated amidst little or no security at the NYSC Orientation Camp in Agege, Lagos in which players and officials complained about mosquito bites, poor sanitation, late preparation and taking of meals not forgetting epileptic power supply.

The 4 day-long competition was hastily executed with teams forced to play two to three games per day without adequate provision for food, the issue of referees from the Lagos State Referees Association over unpaid monies forced many of the games been delayed and played at night under floodlights, over the course of the tournament expected scouts didn’t arrive on time to access players for selection.

The tournament ended on the 27th after so much trials and errors with team Kwara emerging champions of the maiden competition, earlier there was a novelty match between Super Eagles class of 1994 and selected Nollywood Stars to cheer those in attendance to cap up the unorganized tournament.

The officials and scouts selected 47 players who up until now have not been gotten back to, prize monies won have not been remitted with team Kwara emerging winner, team Enugu second and team Ogun third respectively.

The future of the youths who had so much believed in the tournament is currently hanging in balance over the poor management of the tournament by the organizers, Prince Peter Rufai and his wife who primarily are not conscious of the real term of giving back to the society.

The selected players were promised to be taken abroad for tours and trials to get a favourable contract for themselves but none of it has been accomplished, giving an insight that the tournament is just a one-off thing that lacks continuity which will stall the careers of many youths involved.

Olaleye Idowu

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