The Brigade Commander of the Nigerian Army 9 Brigade Command, Maryland, Ikeja, Brig. Gen. M. L. D. Saraso has yet again fulfilled his promise to support the Little Wonders FC, the football team resident in the cantonment with a visit of Super Eagles and Leicester City midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi. This is in line with his decision to spur Little Wonders to success as they prepare to play in the Lagos State League. The team qualified for the league for the first time since its inception in 2002.
The visit of the Nigerian international, Wilfred Ndidi came alongside a friendly match of Little Wonders FC against Bomb Blast FC at the Lt. Gen. T. Y. Buratai sports complex inside the army cantonment. The game was an explosive match and is second in series lined up for the team by Brig. Gen. M. L. D. Saraso. It ended in a 2-2 draw with Wilfred Ndidi scoring the second goal for Little Wonders FC. The other goals were scored by Stanley Joseph of Little Wonders and the duo of Bulus Zaina and Nurudeen Akanbi of Bomb Blast FC.
Speaking with Oki Samson of Trek Africa Newspaper and other Pressmen on the reason for the novelty match, Brig. Gen. M. Saraso noted: ‘The essence of organizing this friendly novelty match is just to encourage the youths in the barracks. When the Little Wonders FC that have been grooming themselves for years on this pitch, Ndidi was one of them until he left for Europe to play professionally. They for the very first time as a team qualified to play in the Lagos State League. When they came to me with this good news, I promised that I am going to encourage them to go higher.
The least I can do is to get their contemporaries, people who started like them with humble beginnings and same background to come and identify with them, play with them, gist with them, get very good advice from them so that they can be encouraged and developed in order to realize their full potentials.’
‘We started this when I first brought in Moses Simon who plays with Nantes FC. He is also a barracks boy who started in Kaduna. His father is a soldier who served till he retired. I said it will not be out of place to get someone from this barracks from this same pitch. I found him and he obliged. I am sure it will impact youths playing on the pitch and those sitting on the pavilion by his presence and will likely wait to put in more determination to their acts.’
‘I want to encourage the youths to remain disciplined as the barracks is founded on discipline. There should be good ambassadors of the barracks, shun crimes and vices’, the Brigade Commander stated.
The special guest of honour at the football match, Wilfred Ndidi who also emerged from the barracks in Maryland, Lagos was elated to be invited to part of the success story. He said: ‘This is a great privilege for me to be back home. Special thanks to Brig. Gen. Saraso for inviting me. I am really honoured. I am really happy to see everyone. I am here to encourage these players and I believe my presence will make them feel that way. I am blessed to have come out of this place to let them know I came from the roots. I will advise the youths that they have the talent and quality, they should showcase it.’
On the need for youths to embrace education, the Leicester City FC star remarked: ‘On the other hand, they have to further their education which is a plus for you. It is a reality that you can be in school and play football so that you can have something to fall back on if football doesn’t work out.’
‘I didn’t think I would get to the top growing up in the barracks. I just wanted to play football. It was just the grace of God and the opportunity came and I took it. I am really pleased. I am really blessed. I am really proud of myself’, Ndidi concluded.
At the event, Wilfred Ndidi gave N500,000 each to Little Wonders FC, Bomb Blast FC, and widows in the cantonment.
Dignitaries at the novelty match are; Base Commander, 651 Base Services Group, Ikeja, Air Commodore Kolade Adeniran Ademuwagun; Director, Institute of Army Education, Nigerian Army Cantonment Ikeja, Brig. Gen. M.M Kini; ; Director, Nigerian Army Archives, Ikeja Military Cantonment, Lagos, Brig. Gen. M.A. Uba; CEO Achieving Greatness, Mr. Emmanuel Ojibo; Chief of Staff, 9 Brigade, Nigerian Army Cantonment Ikeja, Col. I.O. Amah; CEO of Teeded Nig. LTD, Mr. Tunji Aded Adeyankinnu; CEO, Emperor Resources Ltd, Mr. Femi Shadamoro among others personalities.