Monday, 11 November 2013

President Jonathan's Speech at the Reception for the Victorious Golden Eaglets

1.         I am very pleased to host this special reception, in honour of our victorious Golden Eaglets, who by their outstanding performance and victory at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, have brought great pride and honour to our country and our continent.

2.         This is the second time I will be hosting this Special Team this year.  You will recall that on Tuesday, May 21st 2013, I hosted the team when they placed second at the CAF U-17 Championships, losing narrowly on penalties, to Cote d’Ivoire.
3.         On that occasion, I charged the team, on behalf of all Nigerians, to go forth and conquer the world at the FIFA U-17 World Cup. Today, with dedication, discipline and great sportsmanship they have succeeded in establishing themselves as true champions on the global stage. Within just 7 months, the team has transformed from being second best in Africa to being the best in the world. It is only through serious preparation, hardwork, and great determination, that such an outstanding achievement is possible.

4.         This victory brings to five the number of global and continental championships Nigeria has won in the last two years of our administration. It will be recalled that earlier this year, against all predictions, we won the Nations Cup in South Africa for the first time in 19 years. Only three months ago, our senior National soccer team, the Super Eagles also defeated the South African national team at home to win the first edition of the Mandela Cup.

5.         In 2012, Nigeria also came tops in the Africa Senior Athletics Championships as well as in the Junior Africa Athletics Championships. This is definitely a golden era in Nigerian sports. These victories did not come as a surprise. After the 2012 London Olympics, where we did not win any single medal, except in the Paralympics, I told the nation that that was unacceptable, and we promised to re-organize the sporting sector to restore the glory of our nation in sporting competitions.

6.         We subsequently held a special Presidential retreat on Sports, during which we took measures to address the factors hampering the performance of our sports men and women. We came up with a road map to change our fortunes in sports. And here we are today, recording victory after victory in continental and global championships. I believe that this is only the beginning.

7.         Moving forward, I want to assure Nigerians that our administration will provide the necessary enablement in terms of facilities and support to ensure that our young men and women continue to rule the world in sports. Without doubt, these victories show the great potential of this country to lead the world in any field of human endeavour once we organise ourselves, apply discipline and work hard.

8.         It is therefore, with a great sense of joy and pride that I, on behalf of all Nigerians, specially congratulate our illustrious U-17 team for their well-deserved victory.

9.         During the championship, Nigerians very keenly followed your progress, through the group stages, to the finals with Mexico. I watched with joy and satisfaction, your persistent display of skill and confidence, as you knocked out Iran, Uruguay, Sweden and eventually defeated Mexico to win the prestigious U-17 World Cup.

10.    In recording this historic victory, the team has set two championship records; Nigeria is now the only country to win the U-17 World Cup a record four times and in doing so, the team also set a new goal-scoring record, with a total number of 26 goals.

11.    I commend the team for displaying a high sense of patriotism throughout the competition, for playing tactical and exciting football, for fighting gracefully till the final blast of the whistle. You won fairly and convincingly and we are very proud of you. This victory is for the whole of Africa, and the beginning of a new era in the revival of our nation’s competitive spirit.  Moments like this, remind us that our capacity to unite and face common challenges remains unshakable.

12.    Throughout the competition, you forged an exemplary bond of friendship, hard-work, togetherness and unity amongst yourself. I urge you to maintain these noble attributes. As you begin life, let this victory be an important take-off point to greater achievements for you, your families, your country and the continent.

13.    To the crew, who have nurtured this team to greatness - coaches, trainers and handlers, I thank you for a job well done. However, amidst our joy and celebration, I must underline that the enduring test of the victory you have achieved, will be the future progress of these players. Their talent must be harnessed and developed to even greater success, you cannot afford to relax on today's laurels; but must continue to train, guide and care for them. This is a world class team, and they must remain world champions from category to category and from one tournament to the other.

14.    I am encouraged that most of the players in this team are drawn from our local football academies. This validates this Administration’s commitment to grassroots youth and sports development. I therefore, urge governments at all levels to pursue the reawakening in investment in the development of our youths and sports.

15.    The glory and honour that you have collectively brought to your fatherland, Nigeria, will not be in vain. Hence, in keeping with my promise, last May, to recognise your efforts on eventual success in this competition, I wish to announce the following tokens:
o     Each player is here awarded scholarship up to University level.
o     N2,000,000.00 (N2m) for each player
o     N3,000,000.00 (N3m) for the Head Coach
o     N2,500,000.00  (N2.5m) each for the Assistant Coaches
o     N500,000.00 for the Team Doctor
o     N500,000.00 for the Physiotherapist
o     N500,000.00 for the Team Secretary
o     N300,000.00 for Chief Technical Officer
o     N300,000.00 for Team Coordinator
o     N300,000.00 for Media Officer
o     N300,000.00 for the Curator
o     National Honours to all the Players and the Crew Members.

16.    Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, no amount of compensation or reward given to these great Nigerians is enough for the honour they have brought to our country. Our Nation appreciates you. All Nigerians at home and abroad are most grateful.

17.    Once again, I say, thank you Golden Eaglets for bringing honour to our nation.

18.    Congratulations! May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

19.    I thank you.

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