Mr Seye Oyeleye Acting Director General in a chat
*Project to create up to 1m jobs *Ogunjobi hails initiative. A practical move to revive sports excellence in Southwest Nigeria began yesterday with the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN) Commission and the Southwest Football Forum.

The document was signed at the Cocoa House, Ibadan headquarters of the regional integration commission by its Acting Director General, Mr Seye Oyeleye and the chairman of the forum, Mr Seyi Akinwumi.

Addressing the stakeholders, Oyeleye said the initiative was part of the process of moving footballing forward in Southwest Nigeria solely to create opportunities for youngsters to develop their talents and engage more youths in sports to reduce unemployment.

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He added that the commission had the approval of the six governors of Lagos, Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Osun and Ekiti to start the project at their last meeting in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital last month.

Oyeleye bemoaned the current situation where many young talents in the region are wasting away due to lack of opportunities to utilize their gifts for local, regional and national recognition.

According to him, Western Nigeria produced many of the best footballers and sportsmen and women in the past while the region struggles today in the world of sports due to dwindled opportunities. 
The Acting DG described the regional sports project as a tool for regional integration, pointing out that the commission believes that the entire value chain of the sports initiative can provide up to one million direct and indirect job opportunities. "We are starting with football which is the most popular sport. It is the process of reclaiming of our lost glory as a region. And, we won't look back." Oyeleye said. 

He said the the football tournaments would "afford the youths of Southwest states the opportunity to showcase their sporting skills, encourage networking, peer learning, stimulate collaborations and further drive the regional integration process."

Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi
The chairman of the forum, Barr. Seyi Akinwumi, also corroborated Oyeleye on the potentials of the project in job creation and crime reduction.
He disclosed that the forum was established in 2015 to enable footballers, coaches, football administrators and other related stakeholders in the football industry in Southwest to come together to support one another. He added that the forum also aimed at allowing members work together to improve football in the region. 

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Akinwumi said the new partnership could lead to establishment of a new league to be christened Odu'a League as well as tournaments sch as Western Nigeria Governors' cup.

Akinwumi said the forum, whose members include known names in the football industry such as Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi, would go into a lot of groundwork that will make its tournaments succeed and also explore all opportunities for football development in the region.

According to him, the new partnership would be so well managed to the level that the entire country will realize that football is better managed at the level of regions.

Akinwumi also pointed out that the forum was not formed to segregate footballing in the country but to explore the opportunity of managing it regionally. 

Ogunjobi, who is a former Secretary, Nigeria Football Association,  hailed the new initiative, saying it is one of the best things that can happen to footballing in Nigeria. He said regional tournaments would offer opportunities for young talents to grow beyond their immediate locality. 

At the event was the Oyo State Commissioner for Youths and Sports Development, Barr. Yomi Oke and other top civil servants in sports ministries across Southwest states.

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