Heritage Football Academy and FC Phoenix Queens clinched the coveted titles at the fifth installment of the Cohesion Football Tournament held in Lagos. The spirited competition unfolded at the Union Bank Stable in Surulere, Lagos State, Nigeria, bringing together 42 promising male and female players aged 9-13 from various football academies in Lagos.
The tournament, a recurring community event, serves as a platform to unearth and nurture football talent among youngsters in different local government areas of Lagos and Ogun states. Beyond the realm of competition, the Cohesion Football Tournament is a beacon for fostering essential values, knowledge, and skills among these gifted children, paving the way for their future leadership roles.
Notably, the initiative is strategically crafted to actively steer participants away from potential entanglements with crime, substance abuse, and other societal pitfalls. This year's edition marked a significant expansion, welcoming a total of 42 teams, including the historic introduction of 10 female teams—a monumental stride in the tournament's history.
In the male category, Heritage Football Academy emerged triumphant, claiming the pinnacle and a substantial prize of N500,000. Ablaze Football Academy from Ikorodu secured the second spot, pocketing N300,000, while Unstoppable FA from Makoko clinched the third position with a reward of N200,000. In the female category, FC Phoenix Queens from Orile showcased their prowess, securing victory and a noteworthy cash prize of N500,000.
The second and third positions in the female category were claimed by Wazbak International Queens and Unification Ladies, earning N300,000 and N200,000, respectively. Notably, the tournament's most valuable female player, Taiwo Ayomide of 'Ablaze FC,' earned a school scholarship prize of N100,000.
Damilare Obagbemi, the Convener of the Cohesion Football Tournament, expressed deep satisfaction at the successful conclusion of the grassroots competition. He highlighted the exceptional turnout of 42 teams, including the groundbreaking inclusion of 10 female teams, surpassing initial expectations. Obagbemi emphasized the transformative power of sports in shaping the lives of young talents, reinforcing the commitment to grassroots intervention through sports initiatives.
In a memorable prize-giving ceremony, attended by football enthusiasts and celebrities such as former Super Eagles player Victor Agali and social media personality Adebowale "Debo" Adedayo, also known as "Mr. Macaroni," Obagbemi congratulated all participants, volunteers, and supporters. He underscored that the achievement goes beyond victories, celebrating the values instilled, the camaraderie forged, and the barriers broken—a testament to the tournament's enduring impact on the community.
Cohesion Football Tournament, which launched in December 2019 with only 12 teams from Mushin and Surulere LGA, has grown to become one of the biggest and most impactful youth focused, grassroot sports football initiatives in Nigeria over the years.
The 2023 edition was made possible by the support of partners including: Premier Cool, Maltina, Twisco, Apollo, Gamr Africa, Firewood Jollof, Milo, Dios Dlite, Riquesa Africa, Nigeria Info, and Femi and The Gang.