Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has disclosed that his administration is considering constructing a new stadium following the promotion of the state-sponsored football team, Bayelsa United, to the elite Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL).
Last Saturday, the team won Group B2 Southern Conference of the 2021/22 Nigerian National League (NNL) after defeating Cynosure of Abakaliki, Ebonyi State 2-0 in their last game of the season at the Samson Siasia Sports Complex, Yenagoa.
Speaking during a dinner in honour of the management and players of Bayelsa United on Tuesday in Yenagoa, Governor Diri said although the Samson Siasia complex, which hosts both Bayelsa United and Bayelsa Queens, which also won the 2021/22 Nigerian Women Football League (NWFL), will be re-modelled ahead of the new season, there was need for a stadium of international standard in the state.
He expressed the commitment of his administration in making Bayelsa a hub of sports in Nigeria, saying that the state would soon organise a sports festival to complement its sports development policy, adding that the government had received positive responses from corporate organisations.
Diri announced the approval of N10 million as motivation to the team.
“I like to join all Bayelsans to congratulate you and welcome you to the elite division of the Nigerian Professional Football League. Last year, when you contested for the FA Cup, now renamed AITEO Cup, you were called giant killers because you were in the lower league. But you defeated clubs in the premier league to win the trophy.
“From then on, we believed we can do better. At the end of the day, you made yourselves and the state proud by winning that coveted AITEO Cup.”
“Going forward, we have decided to ensure that our past glory is returned to our state. Sport is a veritable tool for youth development and we all know that football is like the king of sports.
“I like to inform you that this is the beginning of a new dawn for your football career. We want to signpost you to win the Nigerian Professional Football League so you can represent this country again on the continent.
“If the technical crew needs to go for refresher courses, please let us know. We are prepared to send you to anywhere. Whatever you need to beef up this team, we will provide the resources.
“I am happy to hear that we have 75 per cent of Bayelsans in the team. But I do not mind if you bring in international players,” the governor declared.
In his remarks, Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo commended Diri for the team’s victory, saying it was another feather to his cap in sports development and that it was the beginning of more laurels for the state.
Earlier in his address, the chairman of Bayelsa United, Mr. Ebiki Timitimi, while appreciating the governor for the financial support to the team, noted that frequent pep talks through phone calls boosted the morale of the players.