Sapele is a city in southwestern Nigeria, located in Delta State. Sapele is located at the source of the Benin River, which flows into the Niger Delta.

The development of football in Sapele began in the 1950s, when football was still in its infancy in Nigeria, and Sapele, a city renowned for its excellence, was then at the forefront of football. The Sapele Township Stadium was one of the earliest stadiums built in Nigeria, and the desire to fully develop football at the grassroots level spawned the Sapele Amateur Football Association in 1987.

This was quickly followed by the organization of the first Sapele Nations Cup competition in 1988. It was a competition that brought together 16 teams from Sapele and surrounding areas. Some of the teams that competed in the inaugural Nations Cup competition include: K.B Stars, Athletico De Marin, Ghana Black Stars and Loaders F.C.

The competition was organized by Mr. Gabriel Igarri and Mr. Dan Evumena. Interestingly, the inaugural Sapele Nations Cup trophy was donated by Chief P.D.O Akpeki the Ugo of Okpe Kingdom. Coming back to the development of football in Sapele, it should be noted that in 1968 the Nova Luna Football Club was formed. It was Sapele’s first youth club. It was founded by the late Mr. Tony Okonedo who was then a Graded football referee. He also founded the women’s football club the same year. After the formation of Nova Luna, the Niger Pools football club came in 1969. It was formed by the Niger Pools company.

He then metamorphosed into Strangers Football Club in 1969, formed by former players of Niger Pools F.C. The Strangers football club was then managed by Olayinka John (Ayogi) who died on January 7, 2010 following a long illness. The club has been around for two and a half years.

In 1971 Ethiope F.C Sapele was formed and it rose to prominence due to the caliber of players in its fold then. When it was announced that the club would be leaving Sapele for a new base, Bendel State Governor Osaigbovo Ogbemudia took over the club’s business and renamed it New Nigeria Bank F.C, with its base in Sapele.

There were four state clubs in then Bendel state

Ethiope Football Club (later renamed New Nigeria Bank F.C Sapele)

Viper F.C Benin (later renamed Bendel Insurance of Benin)

Ika Rangers F.C Agbor (later renamed Midwest Line F.C)

Warri Wolves F.C Warri (later renamed Midwest Line F.C z)

These four clubs were then transferred to various companies by the then Bendel State government.

In 1971/72 there were the eleven brothers F.C and Eleven Strikers F.C both based in Sapele.

The late Olayinka John (Ayogi) was then the coach of eleven brothers. The club produced the likes of German Odjegbe who was then captain of the Bendel U-17 football team which won the gold medal at the 1973 National Sports Festival. The club also produced Prince Afejukwu, Oshoff Shogbene, goalkeeper Nasiru Momoh, Samuel Afejukwu and Ighoraye Ogayone. Eleven Strikers F.C was then captain by Monday Daibo and the team had the likes of Andrew Boyo.

In 1973 Ethiope FC later renamed New Nigeria Bank FC left Sapele and in 1974 the team was then known as Custom and Exercise FC A large part of Strangers FC Sapele’s players formed Custom FC which was then under the Custom and Exercise department.

The team was then led by inspirational defender Gabriel Igarri from 1975 to 1983. During this period under review, other teams sprang up in the metropolis of Sapele. These include: Government Coastal Agency FC – Founded in 1976, Seaboard FC (including Delta Packaging, Life Flour Mills and Top feeds) – founded in 1977 and Palm Line Agency FC – Founded in 1977. Of these three teams , a joint team to represent Sapele has been formed. It was then called Urhiapele F.C. Urhiapele F.C was founded during the 1985/1986 season. The club did not last long, however, due to administrative issues. They only played one friendly match against the Warri football club of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company.

There was also the Rainbow Football club which was founded in 1980. The club then playing in the State League / State Challenge Cup was sponsored by chef Michael Ibru. One notable player who came out of the ranks of Rainbow FC was goalkeeper Andrew Aikhomogbe who later rose to prominence and represented the Golden Eaglets U-17 national team at the FIFA U-17 Championship marked Scotland 89.

Source by Clement Sadjere

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