By Victor Onajero Gbogidi
Aladja community in Udu Local Government Area of Delta State has won this year’s Chief Lawrence Emareyo Communities Peace Cup.
Aladja community defeated Eruemukowharien community 1-0 to lift the trophy at the Ughelli General field, Ughelli.
The thrilling encounter which attracted royalties, top football stakeholders and fans within and outside Delta state saw Aladja community go on attacking forays in the early stages of the match as the defence and goalkeeper of Eruemukowharien community were called into action on a couple of occasions.
The persistence of Aladja paid off in the 30th minute, when Sunday Eguolor, rose highest to power in a header from a corner which left the Eruemukowharien goalkeeper motionless.
The goal seemed to be the catalyst the game needed as both sides created a couple of chances to score, but were hindered by the water-logged pitch resulting from the heavy downpour going into the halftime break.
Indeed, Heaven’s gate was opened as it rained ceaselessly, forcing the match officials to call off the game after lengthy consultations with both coaches, captains, LOC, and other football stakeholders present.
After much deliberation, the match was awarded to Aladja community with the giant trophy, and a cheque of eight hundred thousand naira was handed to the captain, Seth Edjeba, along with gold medals for the team.
Runners up, Eruemukowharien community received a cheque of seven hundred thousand naira, along with silver medals, just as individual awards were handed out for outstanding performers.
Steven Eregare of Iwhreko community scooped the Most Valuable Player award, Frank Ekokoto of Otor-Udu community won the Highest Goalscorer award, Israel Bezi of Aladja community was voted the Best Goalkeeper, while Joshua Gboye of Otor-Udu picked up the Best Coach award.
Effurun-Otor community was voted Best behaved team, just as Iwhreko Youth chairman was voted as Best behaved community representative at the tournament.
Speaking after the awards presentation, the sponsor of the tournament, Chief Lawrence Emareyo, commended both communities for putting up a good display as he thanked all the 20 communities that participated in the maiden edition of the communities peace cup competition.
The philanthropist, who was full of joy noted that the purpose of the tournament is to preach and promote peace amongst Urhobo communities and Delta state at large, as a peaceful community attracts development and industrialization.
Chief Emareyo, an indigene of Oteri community in Ughelli kingdom also assured that the 2nd edition of the tournament will commence in January 2023 and more communities are expected to register for free.
Earlier, two glamour matches were played as dress rehearsals ahead of the main event .
In the first fixture, a team comprising Ijaw indigenes defeated their Igbo counterpart by 2 goals to nothing in a keenly contested affair, with both teams smiling home with two hundred thousand naira each respectively.
The second match, which was highly anticipated, saw tricycle riders lock horns with motorcycle riders in a clash tagged “Keke Riders vs Okada Riders”.
A brilliant freekick from a Keke rider secured the win for his side as both sides were handed two hundred and fifty thousand naira each for their efforts after full time.
The Royal Father of the day, the Ovie of Ughelli kingdom, HRM, Dr Wilson Ojakovo, Oharisi III, graced the final, in the company of the Odion-Ologbo of Irri kingdom, Dr Joseph Akokohor Aghagba, the Inawai of Onya kingdom, HRM Frank O.O Akpati II, Idudu I of Oyede kingdom, Chief Ini Gramania, representing the Odion-Ologbo of Oyede kingdom, HRM Emasubeta Idjara I, amongst others.
Also in attendance were the chairman of Delta State Football Association, Hon. Ken Nwamoucha, ex-international, Chief Edema Fuludu and other top football stakeholders.