Bendel Insurance is reborn, back and better – Obaseki

Mazino Dickson

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One of Nigeria’s legacy football club sides, Bendel Insurance of Benin is set to return to the top echelon of local football.

This follows the unveiling of the team’s new logo,  jerseys,  team bus, technical team and a brand new manual.

Unveiling the rebranded corporate identity of the state-owned football club in Benin, Edo state governor, Godwin Obaseki said the move was to make the club a reference point in terms of standards and professionalism.

He said his administration was keen on reviving sports activities in the state to serve as an avenue to arrest youth restiveness and joblessness.

“Our role as a government is to revive our spirit of sportsmanship. We see sports as playing a significant role in uplifting the lives of our youths and giving them hope for a better country.

“We are going to be emphasising grassroots sports, especially with the design and contract to build a mini-stadium per local government councils having been done”.

The governor called on business operators in the state to support his administration in its bid to ensure that the state regains its place of pride in sports.

“We encourage organisations to set up sports arenas to get our young men and women active,’’ he said.

Private Investment

In his remarks at the occasion, the President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, commended the Edo government for supporting sports and rebranding Bendel Insurance FC.

Pinnick however called on the state government to leverage corporate bodies for sponsorship in order to take sports to the height of self-funding and make it independent of government grants.

A club should be privately run to ensure consistency. What your government has done is amazing. After this rebranding, I don’t think we need government because I have seen the passion people have for this club.

“I think you should develop your own cards. Silver and Premium cards and VIPs stand as a means of generating funds,’’ he suggested.

On his part, the Deputy Governor of Edo, Philip Shaibu, said Bendel Insurance FC is a mass movement.

It has produced players such as Osaze Odemwingie, Austin Eguavoen, amongst others, who have represented the state both at national and international competitions.

“The club’s new logo, with the symbol of the late Queen Idiia, was chosen because the queen was a warrior and won battles.

“We are optimistic that the rebranded Bendel Insurance FC will be a force to contend with.

“We want to link the club with our cultural heritage. It represents who we are — people who are hard working, disciplined and aspirational,’’ he said.

Legacy

Bendel Insurance is considered by many football purists as one of the golden sides of Nigerian Football – Rangers International of Enugu, Shooting Stars of Ibadan, Stationary Stores of Lagos, BCC Lions of Gboko and Mighty Jets of Jos.

Under veteran tactician Alabi Aisien, Bendel Insurance played a brand of football tagged NATIVE LAW AND CUSTOM – a tactic that implied playing long balls up field and waiting for quick strikers to hit the back of the net.

This style became popular in the 1978 FA Cup final, when the Aisien-tutored side whipped national league champions Rangers International of Enugu 3-0, much to the consternation of a stunned nation.

The Benin side remains the only clubside in Africa to win two continental titles in one football calendar year, defeating Primero De Maio of Angola to lift the then CAF Cup, and a few weeks later beat fellow Nigerian clubside Plateau United of Jos to retain the WAFU Cup in 1994.

It has produced many players for Nigeria’s national teams, they include Kadiri Ikhana, Austin Eguavoen, Baldwin Bazuaye, Tunde Charity, Wilson Oruma, Pius Ikedia, Justice Christopher and Osaze Odewingie.