OLAMIDE ADEYEMO, Chief Operating Officer, PACE Sports & Entertainment Marketing, organizers of the Higher Institutions Football League (HIFL) speaks to CompleteSports.com’s SULAIMAN ALAO ahead of the HIFL 2019 SUPER 4 finals slated for the Agege Stadium Lagos on Saturday, October 26, 2019.
How have the various institutions responded to the league this year?
It has been a mind-blowing experience. Many thought it would be impossible to run the league especially as we made it a private sector driven one. And also because the league has been expanded from the old format of 16 universities playing 30 games to 32 institutions now playing 66 games across 21 cities in the country within five months.
How has the league fared so far going into the final stages?
We’ve had an amazing response all across the participating institutions. I will say it has been a breath of fresh air having met the huge request to double this year. We’ve also had quality attendance during the matches with four to five thousands football fans trooping out to watch the games and enjoying what we are offering.
With an expanded format, what are the challenges experienced during the season?
Yes, it has been very challenging especially in terms of understanding the terrain across divers states. The logistics and the cost of running the league soared. But we have responsible sponsors and partners that understand all the difficulties and they gave us amazing support as well as funding to ensure the success of the league.
And will you say the sponsors are satisfied so far?
Our sponsors – Stanbic IBTC, Premier Cool and Indomie Noodles – are all very satisfied because they are on ground at all our match venues and they are getting the necessary feedback. We have long term commitment from Stanbic IBTC that gave us a 5-year sponsorship deal and we have ensured to put all our stakeholders first. Our partners, LaLiga and Vista International Ltd have also been of great assistance alongside all our media partners including Complete Sports.
Which institutions have made it to the final stages this year?
Four institutions have qualified for the HIFL Super 4. OAU Giants will take on Unilorin Warriors in the Third Place Match while defending champions UAM Tillers will do battle with UNICAL Malabites in the final. All the games will hold at the Agege Stadium on Saturday [October 26] from 12 noon.
Has the HIFL discovered players who can go on to make a career in football as well as become international stars?
Yes it has. The 2018 edition led to the discovery of the likes of Emmanuel Ogbole and Ebuka Odenigbo who have gone on to play for Nasarawa United and Kano Pillars respectively in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL). This season, we have seen a number of outstanding players too that have the potentials to make it big in football.
How are preparations ahead of the Super 4 and what are we to expect in the finals?
Fans and audience are in for a great time at the finals which is going to be a great football carnival. We have put in thorough preparations and proper planning to ensure we have a memorable HIFL Super 4 grand finale. People should look out for the best of football which will be shown LIVE on Supersports. It is going to be a great atmosphere.
What are the side attractions to look out for at the Super 4 finals?
Yes. There will be special performance from star artist, Small Doctor as well as loads of goodies for the audience. There will be Raffle Draws where fans stand to win good prizes too.
And what are the rewards earmarked for the winners?
The winners and the two runners up aside the trophies, will get cash rewards which will be paid to their institutions to help develop sporting facilities. Then the HIFL Elite Awards is slated for Sunday where all outstanding participants and stakeholders will be recognized among other things.
Your parting words…
Of course, we want to thank all our sponsors, partners and all other stakeholders across all the participating institutions who have all combined to make the HIFL a huge success. We are also inviting all football fans to come and enjoy the Super 4 finals in a carnival atmosphere at the Agege Stadium.11 BUSINESS NUGGETS FROM SUPER EAGLES BRONZE MEDAL TRIUMPH. The content of this ebook will propel you above your competition. DOWNLOAD NOW!!!