Neighbouring Ijaw and Itsekiri, last week, locked horns in an atmosphere of peace and conviviality for the 2019 edition of the Ijaw/Itsekiri Peace and Unity football Cup competition also known as Comrade Mulade Sheriff Peace and Unity Cup.
The tournament, with its exciting grand finale held last Friday, November 29, 2019, saw N2.2 million cash splashed as awards and consolation prizes on the participants drawn from both Ijaw and Itsekiri communities in Delta State.
Ecstatic spectators at the Benikrukru Township Field, where the grand finale held, cheered Ajudiabo FC (of Itsekiri) and Kunukunuma FC (Ijaw) for the third-place prize, as well as Ogidigben FC (Itsekiri) and Okerenkoko FC (Ijaw) which contended for the star prize.
Ajudiabo FC thrashed Kunukunuma FC 4 goals to one, to come third, while Ogidigben FC (Itsekiri) beat Okerenkoko FC by 5 to 4 through penalty shoot-out after 1 -1 draw at full time.
The football competition has, since its inception a few years ago, served as a bridge-builder and peace code in Warri Area which has a history of the bloody inter-communal war between the Ijaw and Itsekiri about two decades ago.
Thus, the tournament, initiated and spearheaded by Comrade Mulade, an Ijaw, has also proven to be the most valuable platform for integrating Ijaw and Itsekiri youths into the football career.
The competition, which had no record of a skirmish among Ijaw and Itsekiri communities in Warri South-West and Warri South local government areas, ended on a high.
Some stakeholders and dignitaries with passion for peaceful coexistence between Ijaw and Itsekiri ethnic groups extolled the sterling qualities of the organiser, Comrade Mulade whose thirst and passion for peace, led him to initiate the football championship.
Speaking on the success of the 2019 edition of the tournament, the peace and environmental advocate, who thanked God for the success of the tournament, commended members of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), who contributed their experiences, moral and physical supports to the success of the two-week competition.
He advised other stakeholders to always honour invitations for peacebuilding and peaceful coexistence events such as this to be part of history, especially how the competition has helped to promote peaceful coexistence among the diverse ethnic groups and how it helped to grow and develop the economy of the area.
Mulade noted that the presence of dignitaries from within and outside Ijaw and Itsekiri lands at the competition helped to boost the people’s joy and also created the feeling that government would bridge the peace gap beyond politics.
The event was adjudged successful, non-biased and as the most valuable competition in the riverine areas of the Niger Delta Region, particularly in Delta State
Meanwhile, the chief host and organizer of the tournament, Comrade Sheriff Mulade, while presenting cash awards to the winners, announced that preparations for the 3rd edition of the Peace and Unity Cup Tournament between the Ijaw, Itsekiri and Urhobo of Delta State would soon commence.
He said the round leather game and other sports would continue to serve as a platform to promote peaceful coexistence among youths from the ethnic groups in the area.