Nigeria: As Covid-19 Loses Grounds in Africa, Nigeria’s Longest Running Football Awards Comes Alive December 22

After months of forced postponement due to lockdown declared by the federal government to control the spread of the novel Coronavirus, the organizers of the prestigious Nigeria Pitch Awards say all is now set for the longest-running football award ceremony to hold on December 22.

Timescape Magazine reports that the 7th Nigeria Pitch Awards has been scheduled to hold for the first time in Lagos, the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria at the Ibis Hotel in Ikeja. The previous six editions were held outside the city. These have been the period Nigeria’s senior male team; the Super Eagles were in town for their international engagements at home. This year’s awards would not hold with the usual fanfare that follows award ceremony of such magnitude, as the organizers have been compelled to adhere strictly to all Covid-19 prevention protocols as laid down by Nigerian health authorities.

Since its inaugural edition in 2013, the Nigeria Pitch Awards has continued to set a high standard for measuring individual and team achievements in football in Nigeria. The scientific and impeccable voting process adopted by the organizers meets the standard practice adopted by the best award systems in the world, a reason the awards have been hailed as credible and transparent.

The awards have a unique voting process.  “Voting for the 7th edition of the Nigeria Pitch Awards was done by over 100 Sports Editors spread across the 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. All votes cast were collated and verified by an independent body before the list of nominees is announced at a press conference,” said Shina Phillips, President of Nigeria Pitch Awards.

“The voting process for the 7th edition began on January 2, 2020, and continued to February 23, 2020. We are grateful to all our voters across Nigeria who voted to ensure that the Nigeria Pitch Awards will continue to honour Nigeria’s best in football and encourage excellence in sports,” he said.

The Nigeria Pitch Awards has always identified and rewarded performances among Nigerian footballers. At the 6th Award Ceremony in Asaba, Delta State, the Super Eagles duo of Odion Ighalo and Ahmed Musa emerged the Striker of the Year and King of the Pitch respectively largely because of their performances at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Other players who have climbed the stage to receive awards include John Obi Mikel, Vincent Enyeama, Late Stephen Keshi, William Troost-Ekong and other football top performers in Nigeria.

“The 7th award ceremony will be honouring deserving award winners for the year, 2019. Unfortunately, the circumstances engineered by attempts to halt the spread of Covid-19 forced a major postponement of the event.

 

 

Shina Phillips, President of Nigeria Pitch Awards (c) YouTube

 

“The plan is to have few guests, sports editors and journalists only in attendance. This year’s award ceremony will mark the first award ceremony which will be held in Lagos. As organizers and as a responsible corporate citizen, we are mindful of the need to observe all government laid down Covid-19 protocols in order to keep our guests safe. This is why physical attendance will be restricted as many nominees including members of the Super Eagles will follow the event online,” Phillips disclosed.

 

Sixteen awards would be at stake on the night with the major highlights coming from the unveiling of the winner of the King of the Pitch Award which will be a big fight between Super Eagles and Leicester City F.C Midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi, Manchester United Striker, Odion Ighalo and Super Eagles and Napoli FC sensation, Victor Osimhen.

In the women’s category, the Queen of the Pitch Award will be a straight battle between Onome Ebi, Super Falcons and Henan Huishang FC player, Chiamaka Nnadozie of Rivers Angels and the Super Falcons and Barcelona Women sensation Asisat Oshoala.

Other categories of the awards include Striker of the Year, Defender of the Year, Midfielder of the Year, Coach of the Year and the Football Friendly Governor of the Year, Sam Okwaraji Award for commitment to Nigerian Football, State with the Best Grassroots Football Development Programme and the Football Journalist of the Year in the Print, Radio, TV, and Online categories.

The Nigeria Pitch Awards is arguably the country’s only audited sports awards organized by Matchmakers Consult with the audit firm, SIAO Partners in partnership with Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).