For Alhaji Abdulrasaq Adebayo Owolabi Wopa, it was so much fun and excitement watching and playing the Emir Of Ilorin Cup growing up as a young boy and this was where the rebirth of the ‘Emir Of Ilorin Cup’ was born, which reignited beautiful memories.
The last edition of the tournament was held in 1978 with Abdulsalam Rocks Football Club emerging victorious. Alhaji Abdulrasaq Adebayo Owolabi the Chairman, Main Organising Committee (MOC) was at that time playing in the feeders team of the Abdulsalam Rocks Football Club.
In a chat with journalists on Wednesday, the football administrator took us down memory lane in a deep revelation, citing where the initiative was borne from.
What brought about this initiative ?
“When I was elected as the chairman of the Ilorin West Football Council, my first agenda was to see the rebirth of the Emir Of Ilorin football championship.
The competition has been happening in the past. The last edition was held in 1978 and then I was in the feeders team of Abdusalm rocks Football Club, so as a young footballer then I was so happy and liked the idea of that competition so when I grew up I do recall the days when we watched and played in the Emir Of Ilorin football championship so fortunately for me when I was elected as the chairman of Ilorin West Football Council, I made the promise to see to the rebirth of this competition because it is a unifying factor, it is a competition that brings everybody home and abroad together to come and rejoice with his Royal Highness on the day of the final.
It was a laudable programme then and it was a program that every Ilorin son and daughter is always proud of. So when I became the chairman of Ilorin West Football Council, it came to my mind that I must rebirth this so I went quickly to His Royal Highness and sought his support and permission to rebirth the competition.
It is on record that the last edition was in 1978 which was won by Abdulsalam Rocks” He stated.
Reacting on the success of the competition he said.
“So far so good I want to thank the almighty Allah for making this competition a success so far.
The standard of the competition to me as the organiser is very high because I have not seen any competition either organised by an individual or Government with this standard. Fair officiating, the referees did well to the satisfaction of the organisers, their indemnity paid as and when due, the clubs abide by the rules and regulations given and I thank God for the cooperation of the members of the Main Organising Committee (MOC) and the entire Emirates sons and daughters for the love shown and support for his Royal Highness Mai-Martaba Seriki of Ilorin Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari CFR. They’ve shown a lot of love and support to the success of this competition in other to celebrate our Royal Highness on his twenty-eight years coronation anniversary, the competition so far so good is on a high and the standard is super.
On how challenging it was organising this competition.
“Honestly it was terribly challenging but I thank God it is coming to an end on Saturday. The most challenge we had was funding, I can’t go to the Emir to collect money because I want to celebrate him. I must look for money to celebrate him. I thank God for the good and supporting organising committee members, we went out to look for funds together.
On what to expect in the final.
“We had a colourful opening ceremony and we want to make the final more ceremonial like a carnival. We are planning to do more than we did in the opening ceremony and by the grace of God we have invited a lot of people, the Sultan of Sokoto, Emir of Kano, Oni Of Ife where these monarchs would be present we should expect something colourful and God will surely grant us the day and make it a success.
Are you encouraged and satisfied with the talent that were on parade?
“Honestly I am more than encouraged because our aim and objective of staging this competition we’ve achieved it, one of our aims was to organise a competition that would bring all youth together to save them from social vices and we were able to achieve that. We’ve discovered a lot of hidden talents, Kwara United, ABS FC have discovered some players and the competition was so competitive that no one expected the two finalists to reach the final even coming out from their group it was a very good contest it shows we were very liberal and gave them a level playing field. It is a very good development, we achieved our aim of discovering new talent.
Are we going to experience this next year?
“You know I said part of the challenges we had is fund so by grace of God people have seen what we’ve done and they saw the standard. We have showcased what we are made of, we’ve shown that we have the capacity to show that we can make a difference and I think with this, people who have supported us will still want to do more next year, and those that didn’t support they will see what we did and be encouraged to support us next year. We don’t just want this competition to be one-off, we want it to be a continuous event and we call on sons and daughters of Ilorin to continue to support us.
The final comes up on Saturday between Police Machine FC and Musty FC inside the mainbowl of the Kwara State Stadium Complex Ilorin.
Photo credit Adexsports