By: Omachonu Kelvin
The inaugural edition of the UI’SU Freshers’ Cup dragged to a halt on Wednesday with Lord Tedder Hall defeating Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall via a penalty shootout after both teams settled for a 1-1 draw at the end of normal time.
The final was indeed a perfect climax for the competition, which lasted for just about nine days. Meanwhile, in the female category, Awo Hall and Queens Hall finished with three points, but Awo clinched first place after finishing with a healthier goal difference.
As expected in every event, there are always highs and lows. This article is an appraisal of the competition.
The UI’SU did a good job with the publicity as most UItes were kept abreast of the happenings. Multiple BC’s of the fixtures and scorelines were often shared on WhatsApp. However, important information like lineups, names of goalscorers, names of players who got carded, e.t.c, were often difficult to get.
Referees are as important as the players in a football game, as they can decide where the game will swing with their calls.
Officiating in many competitions in UI has majorly been subpar, and it has often marred the results of the games.
However, the officiating at the Freshers’ Cup was far better than on previous occasions. The referees had very few questionable calls, and they ensured that the players were well protected.
A particular recurrence was the foul throws by most of the teams, but with time, they adjusted. Their offside calls were on point, and their knowledge of the game was adept.
The organisation of the games did leave a bitter taste in the mouth. Most of the games did not kick off at the allotted time. In fact, some games were played 1 hour after the set time. While the players were always on the ground before time, the referees did not exactly do the same.
The session is already packed with a lot of activities. So, for the players and the spectators, a strict adherence to time would do everyone a lot of good.
Also, there were often problems with field encroachment during games. Some spectators often wandered onto the pitch when goals were scored, and none of the teams received any punishment for this. Next session, the organisers should take a more radical approach towards this problem to ensure it does not continue.
HEALTH AND SAFETY OF PLAYERS
While the referees did a good job of protecting the players, it was important to note that there was hardly any first aid treatment for the players. Instead, the usual approach of just pouring water and leaving the players to their devices was employed.
Thankfully, there was no serious injury throughout the game. However, moving forward, adequate first aid should be provided at the match venue in preparation for unforeseen events.
PRIZE MONEY AND PERKS
Hosting a football competition in the University of Ibadan is not exactly easy. However, if you’re the SU, a befitting event would be expected of you.
Of course, it is not mainstream Europe, so just a little would be expected. While the games were played, it was interesting to note that there was no provision for water for the participating halls.
All the halls that participated had to cater for everything themselves, and that does not exactly look good on the SU.
Aside from that, there was no prize money for the teams. It was basically a tournament for bragging rights. Even competitions organized by faculties, halls, and departments have prize moneys attached to them. So, it is a big flop for the SU to organize a competition without providing basic things like water and at the end of the day, the winning team has just the bragging rights to show for their sweat on the pitch.
Despite the hitches and inadequacies of the Students’ Union, the competition was a nice one. It provided an avenue for the freshers to socialize and get a taste of what sports activities in UI are like.
However, moving forward, the organizers have to ensure that all the issues that have been stated are addressed. A competition of this magnitude should be able to attract sponsors. Of course, offering the teams millions is not feasible, but at least a token would go a long way.
Also, first aid treatment should be made readily available. Football is a contact sport, and injuries are regular occurrences. Since the competition is mainly for freshers, adequate first-aid arrangements should be made in the next edition.
Hopefully, next year’s Freshers’ Cup will be bigger and better.