Usoh leads Bendel Insurance resurgence and revival of football in Edo

Posted by Nelson Dafe, Benin City | 7 August 2015 | 8,593 times

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Bendel Insurance Football Club of Benin is currently enjoying a renaissance of some sort. The Pro League Division 1 club based in Benin City has been playing some exciting football in recent weeks and their results have been pretty encouraging.

Last Saturday at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, they hammered visiting Atiba FC of Oyo by 3-1 in a thrilling encounter that saw the ‘Benin Arsenal’ peppering their visitors to submission with some aggressive attacking football.

The battle for promotion to the Premier League in Nigeria is on for Insurance and there is a general air of enthusiasm among its fans.

One of the major reasons why players of Insurance are doing well on the field of play in recent times is traceable to the keen interest being shown recently in the progress of the club by some well-meaning and highly placed government officials in Edo state. And one man who has been at the forefront of the attempts to revive the fortunes of the Edo darling team is the head of the Edo State Board of Internal Revenue Mr. Emmanuel Usoh (Esq).

Barr. Usoh is a constant presence at the stadium for Bendel Insurance games, offering the team key psychological and financial support.

During the match against Atiba, Usoh alongside some other top government officials motivated the players of Insurance by announcing cash gifts for outstanding performers of the club on that day. The players were also given a new set of beautiful jerseys at half time which they donned for the second half.

The impact was a galvanized Insurance display in the second half, where an already 2-1 up Insurance piled on more pressure on their visitors, who would have counted themselves lucky as Insurance added one more goal, after the woodwork and some very desperate last gasp defending came to their rescue on several occasions.

Immediately the referee ended proceedings, Bar Usoh descended from the state box unto the pitch and made good his pledge by presenting cash gifts of tens of thousands of Naira to the various goal scorers for Insurance as well as a larger some for the home team's player Osamu who was voted by journalists as the Man of the Match.

Speaking with News Express, Barr. Usoh expressed his delight with the display of Insurance in the game and in recent times. He said: “I am greatly satisfied. I appreciate what they have done this evening and we hope that if they continue to play this way, both at home and away, we will see an impressive Bendel Insurance who will graduate into the premiership. From, what we’ve seen from today’s game and their last away match (which they drew at Uyo) I’m confident that we (Insurance) are going to the premiership.”

With Insurance still some points away from table toppers First Bank of Lagos, some fans of the Benin team feel that the club would have been in a better position in the log if the kind of huge support being shown by the likes of Usoh had come earlier.

“I agree with them,” Barr. Usoh said about how important an earlier and stronger financial backing would have been for the fortunes of the club.

But as the saying goes, it’s better late than never. The push to revive Insurance is in full swing, and the general sentiment is that if the club can’t make it to the premier league this season, then succeeding next season is a real possibility, with the support from the likes of Usoh.

The club supporters club has been given a lift with new supporters wears handed to them as well as music equipment.

“We are going to enlarge the fan base of the club. We’ve started by encouraging more fans to come to the stadium by giving a bag of rice to each fan that comes in early to the stadium.”

Barr. Usoh (who recently floated a talent-discovering national under 13 football tournament which held in Lagos) is on a mission not only to see to it that Insurance alone gets help. He has on several occasions in the recent past made helpful contributions to some of the other Edo clubs plying their trade in the lower cadre of Nigerian football by providing finance and football kits and materials to them.

On August 12, one of those clubs, BJ Foundation will file out against premier league outfit Lobi Stars of Makurdi in Lokoja in a Federations Cup quarter final cracker in Lokoja. Barr. Usoh, like many others, has been impressed by the exploits of the grassroots team and promises that support from high places in Edo state would come for BJ to emerge victorious.

After many years of being in the doldrums, football is alive and kicking once again in Edo state, and it is to people like Barr. Usoh that football-crazy fans in the sports loving state owe their gratitude.

•Photo shows Barr. Usoh presenting cash gift to Bendel Insurance captain and one of the goal scorers against Atiba FC, Charles Omokaro.

 


Source: News Express

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