Ministry Discusses Rebranding Of Rovers FC, Pelican Stars With Galaxy Sport Development China

Discussions are underway for the rebranding of Rovers Football Club of Calabar and the Pelican Stars FC, as the Cross River State Ministry of Sports Development explores partnership opportunities between it and a renowned international firm, Galaxy Sport Development.

During a meeting with officials of the sport outfit in Calabar on Wednesday 17th of April, 2024, the Commissioner for Sports Development, Hon. Agnes Atsu, highlighted that the partnership is a step towards executing the task assigned to the ministry by the state governor, His Excellency Senator Prince Bassey Otu, to “reactivate, revamp and rebrand Rovers FC and Pelican Stars.”

She recalled that “these two clubs had been teams that the whole Nigeria, and even people outside Nigeria knew so much about. His Excellency the Governor came on board and gave a marching order for us to see how we can take back the glory of the teams. That glory was for the state and Nigeria at large. Today you cannot count football giants from Nigeria without mentioning one, two or three that came out of Rovers. The state is open to any kind of idea that will bring development as it has to do with sports.”

On his part, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Sports Development, Mr Ekanem Ekpenyong, thanked Galaxy Sport Development for coming to partner with the ministry.

He described as laudable the idea upon which the partnership would thrive. While seeking clarifications on issue bothering on funding, the SA noted that most times the actualization of lofty idea is hampered by funding.

Meanwhile, the team lead, Dr Samjeh Oscar informed that the partnership with Galaxy Sport Development would bring benefits, not just to the ministry but the state as a whole.

On the thrust of the partnership, Samjeh explained that Galaxy Sport Development would provide linkages and collaborations that would enable Rovers FC and Pelican Stars to participate in the 2024 edition of the Shenyang Peace Cup, an International Juvenile Football competition in China, where outstanding players could be signed by clubs and part of the proceeds return to the ministry to sustain the development of the Calabar Rovers and Pelicans Stars FC.

Continuing, he said the event which would take place between 12 and 18 August, 2024, “is organized annually with teams from Africa, Asia, Europe and America. It involves a lot of international football businesses and other investment opportunities. Scouting teams come in there to pick players and contract them to play in their club sides. It’s one of the biggest football festivals so far. If we want to rebrand Rovers, we must give them this international exposure so that some of them can be picked out and contracted.

“There will be continuous support from Galaxy Sport to these two teams in terms of providing them with kits, technical support, training and still give them international exposure so that the clubs can stand on their own and become self-sustaining.”

He added that beyond the sport aspect, the competition also provides Cross River the opportunity to establish business connections with companies in China, because according to him, officials from other government ministries and agencies with developmental projects would also be part of the contingent that would travel to China.

Expatiating on how the partnership would be funded, Samjeh confirmed that Galaxy Sport Development would take care of the visa processing since it is the only firm accredited for Nigeria for the 2024 International Juvenile Football Shenyang Peace Cup Tournament by Chinese government to scout for participating teams from Nigeria, while he advised strongly that other financial obligations should be borne by interested corporation organizations operating in Cross River as their corporate social responsibility.

Additionally, the director of sports and finance, Galaxy Sport Development, Mr Patrick Agena, disclosed that other states in Nigeria such as Kano, had key into the partnership, where youths from the state had been taken to China for the Shenyang Peace Cup competition.

“They are there. Some of them are still on scholarship in China as we speak. Udenu local government in Enugu state, the chairman there brought in Galaxy Sport, we took their youths to China too. Right now Galaxy Sport has an academy of its own in Nigeria. There are lots of testimonies all over the place on how we have taken these youths to China. Right now we have about seven players who are playing in different clubs in China because of this competition,” he said.

Agena further disclosed that the contingent that would be taken to China for the competition would comprise of 16 players, 4 officials from each club and 5 other officials from government ministries who would who explore foreign direct investment opportunities and development partnerships for Cross River State with investors and the Chinese Government on the sidelines of the competition.

“We will bring our scouting team to work with the ministry to select the best players from the grass root across the 18 LGAs in Cross River State and they should be ones that we know when they go out there they will attract international agents. The selection will be devoid of politics. All we are saying here is sports business to make the ministry self sustainable,” he stressed.

In attendance at the meeting were the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Sports Development, Mr Samuel Egbala; State Director of Sports, Mr Ita Moses; managements of Rovers Football Club and Pelican Stars FC, among others.

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