As part of its social investment commitment in the partnership with the Nigeria Professional League (NPFL), the Spanish LaLiga has pledged significant financial and material support towards bringing succor to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) in Borno State.
Discussions on the support hit high gear for on Wednesday when Helena Montoro, an official of the LaLiga Foundation, the vehicle through which the initiative would be implemented, visited officials of the League Management Company and chairman of El Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri, Zanna Muhammad Mala, at their hotel in Valencia few hours before the NPFL All-Star match with Valencia CF.
“LaLiga through the LaLiga Foundation has pledged huge financial support and lots of sports equipment to alleviate the condition of victims of the insurgency in Borno, especially the Internally Displaced Persons,” Mala confirmed to Sportstalkafrica.com.
“An official of the LaLiga Foundation just visited us here, all the way from Madrid and gave assurance that the plan is receiving serious attention in their office. I am very happy about this gesture and our governor will be very pleased with this development because the condition of the IDPs and the need to care for them is of great concern to not just the state government but to the Federal Government,” Mala said.
“We will be very proud that this support is coming through El Kanemi Warriors Football Club. When LaLiga officials first visited Nigeria, they were told about the condition of our club which, for three years, was playing away from home in because of the security situation and they felt concerned. When they came again, we had come back to Maiduguri but they saw the greater challenge of caring for those who have been ravaged and displaced by the security situation. They then promised that they will partner with El Kanemi to support the community. Now they have given us further assurance.”
Chairman of the League Management Company, Dikko, in visible elation over the development, said it when finally sealed, it will open a new dimension to the value of football, especially the NPFL in Nigeria.
“We said at the beginning that our relationship with LaLiga is on technical, commercial and social development and we are very excited about this prospect. It projects the humane side of football, the giving of hope to the less privileged and distressed in our community. The projects to be carried out by the LaLiga Foundation through El Kanemi will bring great hope to the IDPs, especially women and children who are most affected. You can only imagine what it means for people to be out of their homes, children out of school and facing a bleak future but the LaLiga gesture will be like saying to them ‘common guys, here is hope. You still have a chance to life and you can become like any of the LaLiga or Super Eagles stars,” Dikko enthused.
“This LaLiga initiative will also help to open our eyes in the NPFL to the responsibility of our league and our clubs to our communities. We will learn from LaLiga how they raise money for this kind of interventions. LaLiga may not bring in only their revenue to do this. They also use their name as LaLiga to attract well meaning individuals and corporate organisations to donate to good causes like this.
This is what we should be doing also. Everybody in our country, both individuals and corporates have to look towards this direction and get involved in good causes and they is no better platform than football to drive the message through and to drive the maximum awareness.”
Dikko also expressed gratitude to the Spanish Ambassador to Nigeria, Barnevou who he said first drew the attention of the visiting LaLiga officials to the situation in Maiduguri.
“He drew the attention of the LaLiga officials to the situation of El Kanemi and the condition of the displaced persons. That was during our meetings and negotiations and the LaLiga immediately jumped at it. It remained for them to get details to determine what to be done and the volume of support. So, now we are doing final documentations. This is just the beginning. I am sure if we get it right, confidence will be created and more support will come for other social and community development projects.”
Dikko pointed out further that the LaLiga Foundation support for the people of Borno through their local club, El Kanemi Warriors, should redefine the value and role of Nigerian football clubs to their local communities.
“It goes to show that clubs should connect with their communities, socially, commercially and otherwise. Valencia FC is the pride of Valencia and El Kanemi is the pride of Maiduguri just as Pillars is the pride of Kano, Enyimba to Aba, Shooting to Ibadan, Rangers to Enugu and so on. Clubs and communities share a common destiny. The clubs should bring hope and happiness to their communities both through their performance and through their activities. With all the challenge of insecurity, they is something still happening in Maiduguri and that is football. El Kanemi is back to base and away from the terror of the insurgents the people are happy to be watching their club again, with over 20,000 spectators trooping out on match days. It’s like bringing back life.”