The Management of the Nigeria Football Federation took a very bold step in 2012 when it endorsed and supported the Nigeria Pitch Awards, an initiative of Matchmakers Consult International.
Before this attempt to reward Nigerian footballers and officials, the Federation had never been directly involved in any football awards since it was established in 1945; although, one or two of the Federation’s officials have attended previously organised football awards notably the AIT Football Awards.
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The Nigerian football community has thrown its weight behind the initiative. Nigerian Ex-International, Jay Jay Okocha, who was among personalities present at the first present conference in 2012 echoed popular sentiments when he said ‘The idea of an Annual Football Awards is long overdue.
It is a good thing that the present NFF administration has decided to endorse and support the private initiative of Matchmakers to start something. As a former player and as a Member of the NFF Technical Sub-Committee, I give my full support to the drive. There is really nothing like due recognition, which is the purpose of Awards’
Speaking at the World Press Conference heralding the 3rd edition of the Nigeria Pitch Awards, the General Secretary of the Federation, represented by Dr Emmanuel Ikpeme reiterated the football body’s total support for the awards stating ‘Our resolve to support the Nigeria Pitch Awards has been further strengthened by the reports and feedbacks which we have received about the conduct of the organizers and their interaction with the football community.’
Unlike previous attempts, the Nigeria Pitch Awards has opened up the entire award process making it transparent and credible.
The organisers have strategically positioned themselves as midwives in the entire award process thereby leaving the decisions in the hands of one hundred voters made up mainly of sports editors, coaches, former footballers and administrators spread across the 36 states and the FCT Abuja. This process is coordinated by SIAO Partners, a professional audit firm. The firm distributes the nomination forms to all voters and collates result from all returned forms.
Shina Philips, President of the Nigeria Pitch Awards, stresses that ‘this process is guaranteed to ensure transparency and credibility because the voting and collation are done by two independent bodies without any form of interference from Matchmakers Consult International and the Nigeria Football Federation.’ Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, Managing Partner of SIAO Partners confirms that ‘the process outlined by the Organizers was open and transparent, detailed and credible.
We were also buoyed by the organizers’ determination to remain completely anonymous in the result collation process thereby adding required credibility to the award process‘. Speaking further, Ituah said ‘Let me state very clearly that SIAO Partners were responsible for the entire voting process and this was done without any interference from the organisers or their other partners.’
The 2015 edition held in Kaduna was a well-attended ceremony, hosting the heavyweights in the Nigerian football community. The Executive Governor of the State, His Excellency, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai; Barr. Solomon Dalong, Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports and the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick led the array of top dignitaries who graced the event at the prestigious Hotel Seventeen.
Other top personalities were NFF 1st Vice President Barr. Seyi Akinwunmi, 2nd Vice President/LMC Chairman Shehu Dikko, NFF Board Members: Ibrahim Musa Gusau, Ahmed Yusuf Fresh, Sharif Rabiu Inuwa, Sunday Dele-Ajayi, Babagana Kalli, Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande and Chris Green, and Dr Mohammed Sanusi, NFF General Secretary. Others were, Kunle Soname, Chairman, BET9JA, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, Managing Partner, SIAO Partners, Warri Billionaire, Ayiri Emami, Coaches Samson Siasia, Emmanuel Amunike and members of the Super Eagles led by Captain John Obi Mikel.
The 2015 winners are:
Goal Keeper of the Year
Sunshine Stars FC
Defender of the Year
Midfielder of the Year
Sunshine Stars FC
Striker of the Year
Rasheedi Yekini Award
Warri Wolves FC
Most Valuable Player (Men) in the NPFL
Warri Wolves FC
Most Valuable Player (Women) in the NPFL
Rivers Angels FC
Club/Team of the Year
Enyimba FC – Club of the Year
U-17 Golden Eaglet -Team of the Year
Coach of the Year
U-17 Golden Eaglets
Manager of the Year
Referee of the Year
Player’s Agent of the Year
John Olatunji Shittu
State with the Best Grassroots Football Development Programme
Football Friendly Governor of the Year
H.E Nyesom Wike
Football Journalist of the Year – Print
Football Journalist of the Year –Radio
Football Journalist of the Year –TV
Corporate Sponsor of Football
Guinness Nigeria plc -Silver
Sam Okwaraji Awards
Segun Odegbami – (Ex-International)
Amaju Pinnick – (Administrator)
John Obi Mikel – (Highest Number of Caps in the team)
Queen of the Pitch
King of the Pitch
Special Achievement Award
His Excellency, Nasir El-Rufai
Executive Governor, Kaduna State
Barr. Solomon Dalong
Minister of Sports
Sir Mike Mbama Okiro
Chairman, Police Service Commission
Dr Mohammed Sanusi
General Secretary, Nigeria Football Federation
Football Achievement Award
Super Eagles Chief Coach
Matchmakers Consult International is also finalising plans to host Africa at The Legends of Arts, Music, Management, Politics, Science, Security and Sports Awards- The Africa LAMPS Awards. Nelson Olafisoye, the Chief Operating Officer confirmed that The Africa LAMPS Awards is designed to honour Africa’s best in all fields of human endeavours. Winners will be decided by 52 voters across Africa in conjunction with 6 renowned institutes. The Award Advisory Board is chaired by Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, a pastor and chartered accountant.