Following the resumption of sporting activities in the country, all is now set for the commencement of the 2021 season of the Higher Institution Football League (HiFL).
The league is set to commence on the 19th of April with qualifying rounds involving over Forty (40) Top University teams alongside a host of other exciting activities organised as announced on Thursday, 4th March at the International Press Conference held in Lagos.
Speaking at the event to herald the league, the Director, PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing Ltd, Mr Sola Fijabi intimated that preparations are in top gear to ensure that lovers of football in the country enjoy the best of collegiate football this season.
“The 2021 football games will commence in April with the qualifying rounds. We have had a series of consultations with our partners, the Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA), sponsors and other relevant stakeholders across the board and we are glad to have come to a consensus that we can go ahead with the 2021 football season. We have also studied international football games and how they have been able to pull off the games despite the restrictions occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic. With this, we were optimistic that we have a strategy that will lead to a successful season” Fijabi said.
Other activities for the action-packed and exciting season will include the HiFL E-games, Masterclass series 2.0 and a host of other digital engagement touchpoints.
“Beyond the physical games, we have other activities that will keep our fans engaged as we create value. Feedbacks on the Masterclass Series with Stanbic IBTC for the 2020 season showed that we were able to build the capacity of a lot of young people that joined the webinars. The HiFL E-games, a virtual collegiate football tournament, was another innovation that ensured that our fans did not miss out on the lack of physical games for the 2020 season due to the lockdowns. We hope to sustain the momentum even as we resume play on the field” Fijabi explained.
The pre-league qualifying stage will herald the HiFL 2021 season and will start April 19, 2021 to April 24, 2021 with 25 schools across five zones in Nigeria. Each zone will have five schools each except Zone B and C with four and six schools respectively.
HiFL 2021 Pre- League Qualifiers
|Zone A 1. BUK 2. KOGI STATE UNIVERSITY, KSU 3. ATBU 4. UNIMAID 5. KUST, Wudil||Zone B 1. FUTMINNA 2. ABU, Zaria 3. FEDERAL UNIV, LOKOJA 4. BENUE STATE UNIVERSITY||Zone C Pot 1 1. LASU 2. LAUTECH 3. UNILAG Pot 2 4. FUTA 5. OOU 6. ABUAD|
|Zone D 1. UNIBEN 2. FUPRE 3. NDU 4. FUOYE 5. ADEKUNLE AJASIN UNIV, AKUNGBA (AAUA)||Zone E 1. UNIUYO 2. IAUE 3. UNN 4. FUNAI 5. UNIZIK|
A total of 46 games will be played across all zones to determine the schools to join the super four (UAM Tillers, UNICAL Malabites, OAU Giants, Unilorin Warriors) of the 2019 season in the round of 16 stage. Schools will play one another according to their zone at least once to advance to the round of 16.
The two top schools in each zone will join the super four in the next round. Two wildcards will be selected after the qualifiers to make it a total of 16 schools in the round of 16 stage.
This season promises to be exciting and highly competitive, so ensure you find the nearest zone to you and go support your favourite school while adhering to the covid19 protocols laid out by field officials.
The qualifying rounds formally kick off hostilities in the 2021 season and are expected to be completed between April and May 2021 while draws for the round of 16 will take place in June and run through September. The HiFL Super Four Finals rounds off the season and will hold in September in Lagos.
HiFL is organized in partnership with the Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA) and sponsored by Stanbic IBTC, Nivea Men and Minimie. It would be recalled that physical games could not be held for HiFL due to the lockdown and extensive restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.