BCC Lions’ return, stadium facelift in focus
…as Edeh leads new Benue FA Board to Tor Tiv
BY BEN NWACHUKWU
Two weeks after the emergence of the current Benue State Football Association (BSFA), the Chairman, Barr. Paul Edeh and his board have raised the hope for the return of a defunct foremost football club, Lions of Gboko.
This is part of the outcome of BSFA board and other stakeholders courtesy visit to the Paramount Ruler of Tiv Nation, His Royal Majesty, Prof. James Ayatse, at his magnificent palace in Gboko, Benue state.
The visit was the first official engagement of the new FA board, 12 days after its election and swearing-in as well as inaugural meeting.
Barr. Edeh who had never hidden his passion towards championing development of football at the grassroots vis-a-vis restoration of the glory days of the round-leather game, re-echoed that part of his efforts will be devoted to the return of past soccer monuments in the state, of which BCC Lions, a former continental club champion, played huge part to entrench.
While at the revered first class traditional ruler’s palace, Barr. Edeh also revealed that reinstituting J.S Tarka stadium, being the home ground for BCC Lions established in 1982, was top on the FA board’s desire.
He also appealed to the Tor Tiv to endorse the return of an annual grassroots football competition christened “Tor Tiv Unity and Peace Cup” in his honour.
“Gboko is the true hub of football in Benue state because of its antecedent in producing talented footballers and age-long successful records. There was a time the state paraded up to six players in the Super Eagles, those were the days when a club like BCC Lions made tremendous impact not only in Benue, but the entire country, but that’s no longer the case.
“The good thing is that the good old days can be revived. We came to crave the support of our Tor tiv to prevail on all his sons and daughters to come together to reinstitute the J.S Tarka stadium which has been out of use some times now,” Barr. Edeh, who is also the President of Ratels Sports Development Foundation said.
Responding, the Tor Tiv who leads many traditional rulers within Tiv existence living in parts of the country and world, while assuring of his readiness to continuously support football development, congratulated the new FA board and prayed that the present BSFA excels.
He specifically said the emergence of Barr. Edeh as chairman was apt due to his passion and steady commitment to football developmental projects as a notable club owner.
He however, decried lack of sporting interest by previous government leaderships in the state, adding “We have made several efforts to sponsor different Sports but the government hasn’t been forthcoming.
“We hope that the new government will ensure that the right person is appointed to man Sports in the state because what people see the government get interested in doing, is naturally what they will focus on.
“Sports, particularly football is the way to go in talent hunting and positively engaging the young people. Promoting football will open vista of opportunities for our people.”
The Paramount Ruler who recalled previous efforts made to resuscitate J.S stadium and restore BCC Lions, the first northern Nigerian club to win the Challenge Cup in 1989, now known as Federation Cup said, “But we can start again and rise. People like Daniel Amokachi who made it in sports have become a great encouragement of the young people.
“I want to assure you that discussion about Sports will be major area I will always speak with the governor anytime I have opportunity to meet him.”
On restoring Tor Tiv Cup, the Chairman of Benue State Council of Traditional Rulers said, “The lack of interest by the local government area leaderships forced it not to continue in the past. We gave the councils some roles to play, that was where we had issues… By the time we start again, we will not stop.”
The Barr Paul Edeh-led FA board later made special presentation of football and other unique items to the Tor Tiv.