Dreams of the Nigerian youth in our various universities as far as soccer is concerned are now a reality as the draws for the 2018 edition of the Higher Institutions Football League have been revealed. This is part of preparations toward the successful hosting of Nigeria’s first and only collegiate football league. The dream may not be only for the youth, but for brands who may have found a big exciting platform to capture more shares of their markets. Financial brand like Stanbic IBTC and ubiquitous award-winning brand of noodles; indomie are already part of the story that will heighten the love of the game in the higher institutions scattered all over the country.

It was an exciting time, then, on Friday, 20th July, when football pundits, stakeholders and administrators alongside several brands and business leaders, gathered at the external ball room of the Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos to witness the draws for the participating 16 schools in the 2018 edition of the collegiate football league in Nigeria starting from July 28, 2018 to November 3, 2018.

L:R- Director Pace Sports and Entertainment Marketing, Sola Fijabi; Technical Consultant, Higher Institutions Football League (HiFL), Alhaji, Gara Gombe; A model donning one of the newly unveiled jerseys for the UNIMAID desert warriors, Clinton Obi; Assistant Director, Students’ Support Service (NUC) Ms. Rita Okonjo; Vice President, National University Games Association, Emeka Ogbu and the Executive Director, Brooks and Blake, Nigeria Limited, Taiwo Ogunwumi at the official draws dinner of the Higher Institution Football League (HiFL), organized by Pace Sports and Entertainment Marketing in Lagos, recently.

President of the Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA), Prof. Stephen Hamafyelto said “Football lovers across the country can look forward to a very interesting competition. The successful draws will not only put to rest the question of who plays who, but also set the tone for everyone to be geared up for the exciting days ahead. The managers, the players and even the organizers are now better placed to align themselves with the HiFL’s brilliant execution format.

We are confident that the HiFL will complement the efforts of NUGA to bring back the good old days of competitive inter-school games with all the excitement therein” Hamafyelto added. Other activities which took place at the event included the revealing of unique jerseys and logos for the participating schools.

In a bid to grow collegiate sports in Nigeria, Higher Institutions Football League (HiFL) was, launched this year, by PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing, for football teams in higher institutions in Nigeria as the first organised collegiate football league in the country.

According to the Director, PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing, Mr. Sola Fijabi, the draws for the participating schools is a major part of the competition “as the draws have proven, PACE is very ready to deliver the league in line with global best practices. This is a major part of the competition, and in the coming weeks, we hope to provide the biggest youth engagement platform in the country in terms of reach and visibility. The reveal of the seeded teams in line with global standards is a demonstration of our commitment to deliver the league under the highest quality and condition.

Scheduled to hold between July and November, the league will commence with 16 universities, zoned into the Coastal Conference (South) and the Sahel Conference (North) for reasons of proximity and effective administration.

During the draws, the eight universities from each conference were further categorised into two groups for the reasons of proximity and safety. School teams were picked randomly from 4 transparent bowls which represented the 4 groups namely; Sahel A, Sahel B, Coastal A and Coastal B. Ex-international football players/sponsors who managed the process of the draws ensured that the placement of schools was done in line with global standards.

After the draws, the official fixtures for the HiFL 2018 season were also revealed. Some of the exciting matches to anticipate include the battle of the coasts, Unilag Marines vs Uniben Royals and the titanic battle of the north between BUK stallions and Udusok Sultans.

Pioneer sponsors of the league Stanbic Ibtc and Indomie Instant Noodles, expressed their delight at the opportunity to be part of the HiFL story as it aligns with their desire to positively impact the youth, while moving them forward to greater heights. Supersport, brilla Fm and complete sports were also announced as official media partners of the league.

The Technical Consultant, HiSL and Chief Executive Officer, Green-White-Green Sports Centre Limited Ahmed Shuaibu Gara Gombe described the draws as the platform that essentially sets the ball rolling for the competition. As we proceed, we are on the lookout for exceptional talents and we are committed to providing them the needed support to help them grow in their career”.

HiFL is approved by the Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA) and endorsed by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). The league is overseen by the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Committee of Vice-Chancellors (CVC). The winner of HIFL will represent Nigeria at the 2019 International University Sports Federation games in Naples, Italy.