Over 28,000 contestants turned up when former soccer star, John Fashanu, launched his Football Challenge with Fash in Nigeria about two months ago.
But as scouts, referees and coaches, led by former 3SC tactician, Godfrey Esu, screened the lot, 15,000 scaled through to the zonal trials held at five designated centres across the country. Only 30 made the list that was released in Lagos. The finalists, who were described as worthy ambassadors of the Football Challenge, move into the final stage of the competition, the football reality show, which begins this week.
Football Challenge with Fash, a football television reality show is the first of its kind in Africa.It will feature players who are expected to exhibit their talents on live television. Fashanu, creator of the show, said the best player in the house, who will be named the Most Valuable Player, MVP, will win a Sports Utility Van, SUV, as well as N1million in cash. “It’s heartwarming that we are now getting into the last phase of the Football Challenge with Fash, which is the reality show, where all the final 30 contestants will show the stuff they are made of. For me, its a great event that witnessed an uncontrollable crowd in the beginning,” Fashanu told TheNEWS in Lagos. The former player added that the screening committe did a good job, given the number of talents that expressed interest in the show. “We are now at the tail end of the programme, so let the world decide who is the best out of those we felt made the top 30 in our own estimation,” he said.TheNEWS gathered that the watching public will vote to eject 15 of the 30 finalists, leaving the remaining 15, who will form the Fash FC. Fashanu views the show as a way of giving back to his country of birth, a part of what he has gained from football. According to Fashanu, the backing of Oceanic Bank plc is responsible for the actualisation of Football Challenge with Fash and believes that the audience will vote wisely to select the best among the players in the house. Although all the inmates have been barred from speaking about the show, two of the successful ones expressed what they expect when the show begins this week. Saad Folorunsho and Chibueze Raymond, selected from Aba and Delta centres respectively, expect a transparent show that will present a true winner.
The show has been endorsed by top personalities, including Shaibu Amodu, chief coach of the Super Eagles. Amodu advised the participants to behave well during the show and urged them to make use of the rare opportunity they have to change their life for the better. Esu, who participated in the selection process, expressed delight at the success of the screening at all levels, describing the turnout as overwhelming. Some of those selected for the show are Hussein Habila from Nasarawa, Abass Waziri (Taraba State), Delta’s Uche Anunobi, Okezie Chinedu (Abia), Jonathan Zikiye (Imo) and Ajaegbu Bright from Rivers State.