NIGERIA RECEIVES UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TROPHY
By Goodluck Ikiebe.
Nigeria has joined the global football nations as it receives the UEFA champions League trophy.
The Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare who received the Trophy presented to him by Heineken, in his office at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium Abuja, expressed his excitement over the choice of Nigeria for the touring of the Trophy, describing it as the second most important Trophy in football after the FIFA World Cup trophy.
Dare stated that Nigeria is a football loving nation, that has had a strong attachment to the Champions league over the years.
He stated further that “the tour Ambassador, Clarence Seedorf, is one of the most successful players in UEFA Champions League history, as he is the first and currently the only player to have won the UEFA Champions League Trophy with three clubs.”
The Minister, who called on Nigerian youths to get themselves involved in sporting activities, assured that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is ever committed to the development of sports in the country, adding that Austin Jay Jay Okocha, Finidi George, Kanu Nwankwo and Daniel Amokachi represented the golden generation of Nigeria in football till today.
He expressed optimism that Samuel Chukwueze, who is the only Nigerian youth left playing in the Champions League today, will hopefully be the next Nigerian after Finidi George, Nwankwo Kanu and John Mikel Obi to put his hands on the trophy.
Speaking earlier, the leader of the delegation and the Corporate Affairs Manager of Nigerian Breweries, Shade Morgan, while officially presenting the trophy to the Honourable Minister, said that the presentation of the trophy was among other things, aimed at boosting the morale of Nigerian Youth towards sporting activities to make themselves self employed and self reliant so as to contribute to the growth and development of Nigeria
Osinbajo lights Torch of Unity to herald 21st National Sports Festival￼
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo lit the Torch of Unity on Tuesday in Abuja signaling the beginning of its movement for the 21st Edition of the National Sports Festival.
The festival is scheduled to hold in Asaba for Nov. 28 to Dec. 10.
Performing the exercise at an arena in the State House, Osinbajo said the Torch of Unity, which heralded the festival, symbolised peace and unity in Nigeria.
He said that the torch was also meant to create awareness about the festival amongst Nigerians and also the world at large.
The vice-president said the festival was a crucial activity in Nigeria’s sporting calendar as it had been the avenue to discover many outstanding talents that would go on to become world champions.
“Some of the great champions who we know today were actually discovered at various National Sports Festivals.
“They include the likes of Blessing Okagbare, a world medallist in the 200 meters Olympics and World Championship; and also the medallist in long jump at the Olympics.
“Chioma Ajunwa, notable for being the first Nigerian to win gold at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and the first Black woman to win an Olympic Gold in any field event.
“Of course, you also have Olusoji Fasugba who was the African record holder and gold medallist in the 100 meters event with the time of 9.85seconds.
“This was until Akanni Simbine beat that time in 2021 with a time of 9.84seconds; then, Lucy Ejike, a gold medallist and world record holder at the Sydney 2000 Paralympics through to 2021 in Tokyo.
“And Enifiok Udo Ubong, the only Nigerian to win two bronze medals in the 4 x 400 meters relay and also silver medal in long jump.
“Of course, the now legendary Toby Amusan, OON, the current World, Commonwealth, African Champion in the 100 meters hurdles; she is also the recorder holder in these three competitions,’’ Osinbajo added.
According to him, stakeholders are looking forward to even more successful hurl of great stars at 21st National Sports Festival.
He said that the nation was still basking in the euphoria of the outstanding performance of Team Nigeria at the just-concluded Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK.
“We are committed to supporting the sports sector to sustain this height – the height that has already been attained.
“We realise that the overall goal of using sports as a tool for meaningfully engaging our young and also for uniting our country is a very sound objective.
“It is one that we intend to continue to pursue on a regular and daily basis,’’ the vice-president stressed.
Osinbajo commended the Minster of Sports and Youth Development, Mr Sunday Dare and the host Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa, for their efforts at bringing the festival to fruition.
Earlier in his remarks, Dare said that the event was very significant in the history of sports development in Nigeria.
Dare recalled that the vice-president, at the same arena, received the Queen’s baton to signal Nigeria’s participation at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
“As we light the Torch of Unity at this venue for what is the flagship sports event in Nigeria, we refer to it as the Nigerian Olympics.
“It is from the sports festival that we hope to select our best and brightest to form Team Nigeria for the France 2024 Olympics.
“The torch is the Torch of Unity and over the years, it has united our country’s men and women.
Thirty-Six states and the FCT, 16,000 athletes, more than 28 different sports for age groups between 18 years and 25 years will participate at the National Sports festival.
“The torch is expected to move around the states and the FCT arriving in Asaba to be received by the governor,’’ he said.
The minister thanked the Federal Government for identifying with the festival and providing the support and the resources necessary over the years.
In his goodwill message, Gov. Okowa thanked the Federal Government, particularly the sports ministry for accepting that Delta should host the 21st National Sports Festival.
He said that the state was ready and was working very hard to ensure it provided the best in terms of organisation.
“We are also looking forward very keenly to other states competing with themselves excluding Delta.
“This is because we know we have already won, even ahead of time; but we will like to see other states competing with us,’’ he said.
The symbolic carrying of the torch was led by Mary Onyali, a former Nigerian sprinter.
The torch was afterwards handed over to the vice-president who returned it to the Minister of Sports.
A ceremonial mascot was also handed over to the vice-president by Gov. Okowa.
Resolve NFF/Aiteo Cup Crisis, League Degradation Now, FG Warns
The Nigerian Government has expressed dissatisfaction over the football crisis generated by the Aiteo/FA Cup imbroglio, as well as degradation of domestic league football in the country, due to inconsistent calendaring and other attendant problems.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, through its Press and Public Relations Unit reacts to the latest crisis where football clubs have pulled out of the AITEO Cup.
“It is unacceptable that teams were treated against the rules but according to other considerations not in the rule books”.
The Ministry said, “Our league has never sunk this low. Several times, through writing and verbal discussions, it has brought this to the attention of NFF and persons in charge of the Domestic league.
“Unfortunately, things are getting bad, instead of getting better. Federal Government will be left with no choice than to act to save the crumbling system in place and bring about desired changes”, it stated.
“Federal Government is mandating the NFF to act swiftly and find encompassing and sustainable solutions to all contending issues around the Aiteo Cup. There is a race against time to act, so the NFF must swing to work swiftly to restore sanity,”
“The NFF should know that a critical aspect of the country’s sports cannot be experiencing degradation due to bad management from the administrators and expect Government to keep quiet. Government will not stand idly by and watch our domestic football come to disgrace” the Sports Ministry concluded.
Edo Dep Gov Promises First 1000 Spectators Free Jerseys
…..as Bendel Insurance play Vandrezzer FC Friday in Benin.
Edo State Deputy Governor Rt Hon Comrade Philip Shaibu who is also a registered member of the Bendel Insurance FC has promised to give free jerseys of the club to the first 1,000 spectators that will be at the stadium today
The Benin Arsenal are expected to play their latst match of the season with Vandrezzer FC of Lagos at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium tomorrow, Friday. Time is 6pm.
The sports- loving Deputy Governor who has been a huge moral boaster to the Bendel Insurance players all through the season is expected to make some major pronouncements tomorrow, shortly after the match.
Despite his very tight schedule, he has been training with the players in preparation for the last match where he is expected to lace his boots.
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