Why we introduced U-17 youth league – Elegbeleye

Gbenga Elegbeleye, Chairman of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), has said that the newly introduced Under 17 Youth League would help the country to select and prepare players for international tournaments.

Elegbeleye said this on Saturday while speaking to newsmen in Benin City, the Edo State capital, during the final of the maiden edition of the youth league.

“The league will serve as a reservoir for the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to select a squad for international competitions,” he said.

According to Elegbeleye, who is the 2nd Vice-Chairman of the NFF, the league will only focus on young players.

“Where we have an NPFL club, the youth team (U-17) will be like a feeder team to the various clubs.

“When you have the U-15 players, they cannot graduate immediately and be playing for the premier league, so we need them to go through the U-17.

“Plateau United FC is already benefiting. I can spot three of the boys coming into the senior team from the U-17 team; that is the spirit.

“When we play Under 15 and Under 17 league every season, it will enable us to have a pool of footballers that NFF can select from.”

Elegbeleye regretted the failure of the country to qualify for the last U-17 World Cup, saying that it was due to poor planning.

He expressed the hope that the introduction of the youth league would take care of the lapses that hindered the country from picking the ticket for the last cadet World Cup.

“For instance, we used to be world champions in U-17 football; we have won it four to five times, but unfortunately, we did not qualify for the last event.

“We cannot ask why it was so because we are not planning. We are no longer planning, and when we are not planning, we cannot get good results.

“Now, with the introduction of the youth league, we will have players that will be focused,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that three ex-internationals, Patrick Pascal, Yakubu Aiyegbeni and Seyi Olofinjana were showcased as ambassadors and role models for the youths in the league.

Elegbeleye added that the ex-internationals, would motivate the young players.

“By God’s grace, this tournament has come to stay. This is what we call, ‘Premier League U-17 season one; next one will be season two’,” Elegbeleye said.


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