Nigerian Universities: the future of football development?

Higher Institutions Football League (HiFL), a collegiate tournament created and owned by PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing Limited (PSEM) and managed in partnership with the Nigeria University Games Association (NUGA), which launched earlier this year has announced its draws for the 2018 season.
The draws, which determined how the teams will play and the order of matches was held on Friday, 20th July at the Federal Palace Hotel in Victoria Island Lagos in the presence of football pundits, stakeholders and administrators alongside captain of industries and other business leaders. The league which will begin on July 28, 2018, and end November 3, 2018, with 16 universities playing for bragging rights and the HiFL Ultimate Trophy, has been zoned into the Coastal Conference (South) and the Sahel Conference (North) for reasons of proximity and effective administration.

HiFL is approved by the Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA) and endorsed by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and overseen by the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Committee of Vice-Chancellors (CVC). The winner of the HIFL 2018 season will represent Nigeria at the 2019 International University Sports Federation games in Naples, Italy.

Alhaji Ahmed Shuaibu Gara Gombe, CEO of the Green White Green (GWG) Sports center, the technical consultant for the league, has said the coming on-stream of Higher Institution Football League as a good platform for students to exhibit their talents to the world is long overdue. Gombe explained that the league is aimed at filling the vacuum created in the Nigerian sports landscape.
“Smaller countries that their population is not more than the population of Gombe State has University League Games, and I why is it that Nigeria with our population and number of Universities we had cannot have University League Game. But I am happy we are finally kicking off the games. At the end of this maiden edition, we hope to have convinced our sponsors and indeed Nigerians that collegiate sport is ripe in Nigeria. Then, we may be thinking of expanding to other sports. The process of having football league in our University started two years ago when I wrote a proposal to the federal government on the need to support sports development in the University. Since we are so notorious to start from the grassroots, we should start from the middle. We are faced with a motion-without-movement situation, because government is in front but we cannot continue like that in sports. Government cannot do everything. There is a big platform for the private sector in this initiative and, this time, we want to use this competition to make a big statement and set a standard,” Gombe said.

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