“A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell, and I’m going home.”

Hold it. This is not a Game of Thrones preview or review but I would liken Arya Stark‘s comment (to the Apostle of the Faceless god) to the breakthrough with the NFF Federation Cup yesterday.

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Since Coca Cola ended their sponsorship of Nigeria’s oldest competition in 2008, the Cup have been tossed about by the wind including mere Eddie currents. It dwindled in value with meager price money not enough to cater for the expense a team accrues to play two of the games.

It struggled and had only the relevance of providing the 4th team to represent the nation on the continent and an avenue to add silverware to the team. It was marred with controversies and abandoned games. It was bullied like Arya was made to denounce her identity. But she knew who she was and is. After mastering the trade, she proclaimed her name and rode to freedom.

Yesterday, the Federation got a sponsor. Finally. AITEO group, it is. This group is like the messiah to the Nigeria Football Federation. First, it has cleared the outstanding salaries of the coaches. Now, it has provided a big towel to wipe away the tears of the Federation Cup.

The sponsorship deal will be for five years and the Cup will now be known as AITEO Cup. The winner in the men category will pocket N25million as against N2million last year. The winner in the women category will go home with N10million. Runners-up will have N10million and N5million for the men and women respectively.

More exciting is that the goodies will go round.

The duration of this aspect of the sponsorship is 5 years, similar to the main agreement (signed on 26th April 2017) on a Cost Value Arrangement and commencing from the 2017 season.  This arrangement will see AITEO underwriting the costs of the organisation of the competition which encompasses the costs of organising the competition from the Round of 64 to the men and women’s finals, solidarity support to Football Associations of the 36 States and the FCT, expenses and indemnities of match officials, support to participating Clubs, Media, Branding/Activation and Prize Money to winners. – the NFF

The Cup have had various names since inception in 1945 – Governor’s Cup (1945-1953), FA Cup (1954-1959), Challenge Cup (1960-1998), Coca Cola FA Cup (1999-2008), Federation Cup (2009-2016).

Now that the cup has a sponsor and a name, can we have the draws for the 2017 AITEO Cup? I am excited to see who plays who.

Well done NFF, one monkey off your back. More to come.

A girl has a name. A cup has a name.