As Nigerians look earnestly towards the all-important double legged Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying games against continental arch-rivals Cameroon, beginning this weekend in Uyo, the attacking duo of Ajegunle born Odion Ighalo and Tony Nwakaeme have vowed to tame the Lions of Cameroon.
Ajegunle is a suburb in Lagos, Nigeria, and renowned for producing top sports and entertainment talents, Ajegunle has thrown up the latest strike force for the national team.
Speaking with the press, Ighalo, who is making a deserving return to the Super Eagles buoyed by his present rich vein of form for his Chinese club, enthused confidently on the chances of the Super Eagles to claim all three points against the Lions of Cameroon.
“Glory to God, I have rediscovered my goal scoring form and I hope to deliver the goals against the Cameroonians ,” the former Watford forward said.
Hapoel Beer Sheva striker, Tony Nwakaeme, who is getting a first call up to the national team expressed his desire to help the Super Eagles tame the lions of Cameroon if he gets the opportunity to feature in the game today.
“We are ready to do our country proud in this important game. This is a young and determined Super Eagles and we’re set to rekindle the glorious days of Nigerian football,” Nwakaeme, who was declared the best player in the Israeli top football league last season and has equally started the new season on a bright note stated.
The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has announced two senior staff appointments. Steve DAINTON, who has been the Acting CEO for the past two months, has now been appointed as the permanent CEO. Raul CALIN, who has been serving as the ITTF Director of Operations will assist Mr DAINTON as the ITTF Secretary General.
On the appointments, ITTF President Thomas WEIKERT stated: “Both Steve and Raul have both been extremely loyal to the ITTF over their many years of service, and have been instrumental to the growth of the ITTF over recent years. The ITTF Executive Committee and I have complete trust in both of them to excel in their new positions and guide the ITTF to a new fruitful era.”
39-year-old Australian DAINTON started playing table tennis as a child with his father in the country town of Albury in Australia. DAINTON rose through the table tennis ranks as a junior player, but turned his attention to coaching at a young age, where he produced several Australian national junior players. Most of which was achieved whilst studying Marketing and International Studies at university where he learnt to speak and write Chinese.
DAINTON took up his first ITTF position in 2002 as the ITTF Oceania Development Officer after his university studies. After 3 years travelling around Oceania developing the sport, DAINTON decided to merge his table tennis, marketing and Chinese language skills together and take up a position in Shanghai, China as director of the ITTF-Asia Pacific office.
After 6 successful years in China, and assisting in some big commercial deals with Volkswagen, China Unicom and various other media and sponsorship deals, DAINTON was promoted to the position of ITTF Marketing Director and moved the ITTF-Asia Pacific office to Singapore in 2011. Over the 6 years in Singapore, the ITTF Marketing department grew from strength to strength with more lucrative deals with large companies including GAC Group , Seamaster and GoDaddy as well as started new initiatives such as the ITTF Star Awards, TTX and improved sport presentation at all ITTF’s major events.
On his promotion to the ITTF CEO position, DAINTON stated: “It’s an exciting new era for the ITTF and table tennis. It’s the right time for the ITTF to realize its true commercial potential and modernize itself to ensure that table tennis cements itself as one of the leading sports globally at all levels. I am looking forward to helping to ensure this and to especially assist in growing the table tennis industry to new levels, meaning not only more people playing table tennis, but also more people actively engaged. If we get it right this will ensure the true stars, the athletes ,will be better recognized and rewarded.”
DAINTON will be assisted by Raul CALIN, who has been appointed in a newly created Secretary General position and will continue to be based in Lausanne to focus on ensuring ITTF’s positive Olympic relations.
45-year-old CALIN from Spain has been playing, coaching and administrating table tennis since 1991 with his proudest moment on the table being coaching the Spanish team to one gold, one silver and two bronze medals at the 2000 Paralympics.
CALIN joined the ITTF in 2004 as a Competition Manager and has had many big achievements since, such as being a part of the successful team that built the ITTF Global Junior Programme and running the successful Rio 2016 table tennis event.
“I am looking to help build ITTF into a modern organisation, with transparency in all levels of management, with ambition and clear goals. ITTF should look for excellence in all areas,” stated CALIN. “An institution in which national associations interact actively with the ITTF management for the benefit of our athletes and fans. Let’s work towards excellence in our sport events, let’s have ambition, let’s make an ITTF everyone is proud of.”
More changes to the ITTF professional structure will be announced in the coming months.
Kano Pillars’ Rabiu Ali became the latest player that participated in the ‘Play with Compassion’ charity theme of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) anchored on the VAT Wonder Goal award.
Winners of the VAT Wonder Goal which is supported by the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) nominate and visit charity organizations which receive half of the N150, 000 prize money attached to the award.
In recent months, duo of Rivers United’s Ayo Saka and Emeka Ogbuh, Ubong Friday of Akwa United, Pascal Seka of FC IfeanyiUbah, Ikechukwu Ibenegbu of Enyimba and Usman Ahmed of Wikki Tourists took turns to visit charity homes, mainly Orphanages in their respective states following their emergence as VAT Wonder Goal winners. The reception has been as overwhelming to the inmates as it has been emotionally touching to the players. Many other players are on line to make similar visits
Ali, who won the award for Match Day 26 was an instant hit with kids at the Nasarawa Orphanage run by the Kano State government, played around with them and asked some of them their preferred sport. To his surprise, nearly all of them did not only express a preference for football, they did recognize him instantly and spoke of how they would love to play like him.
His presence brightened their day and they flocked around him and narrated that the Orphanage has a football club and the children said they want to play the way he does.
An emotional Ali afterward expressed delight that the circumstance of the children has in no way robbed them of the innate skill and the love for football. He was much happier at the recognition by the kids and said it is evidence that there much the younger generation can benefit from the NPFL if the opportunities that abound are optimized by government and corporations.
”This is a clear indication that the NPFL has a whole lot to offer to the younger generation. So it is important to set up a standard that will accommodate this young ones in the future”, pleaded Ali who netted for the Nigeria home based national team that recently qualified for the CAF Championship for players based in their home countries..
Ali also seized the occasion to advise his fellow players in the NPFL to not only work towards the highest level of professionalism but also to ensure good conduct at all times since they are being watched by younger ones.
”If these young ones are looking up to us as their mentor, then we must set good example at all times to so the kids would see good models to emulate and to be the best.”
Turning again to the kids, Ali, who is one of the longest serving players in Kano Pillars, admonished them not to give up on their dreams of becoming professional football players, saying, “keep your dreams alive, be focused and work hard towards achieving your desired goals”.
Officer in-charge of the orphanage home Hajia Lauria Sagir Garba expressed gratitude to Ali for the kind gesture of making the home a beneficiary of the NPFL Wonder Goal initiative.
She urged all stakeholders of the league to maintain the tempo of a high standard, describing quality initiatives as the bedrock of success
Carrying on a longstanding tradition of success for Russian Rhythmic gymnasts at the world level, identical twins Dina and Arina Averina each pocketed a gold medal in their World Championship debuts Wednesday at the Adriatic Arena.
For Averina twins, a gold apiece
As they have at major competitions all season, the 19-year-olds wasted no time making the first finals into a family affair. Armed with the most difficult Hoop exercise of the eight-woman field, Dina Averina claimed the first title of the championships after delivering a dramatic presentation to music from “Swan Lake,” her score edging Arina’s by only a tiny margin. With the Ball, it was Arina who prevailed with her preferred apparatus, depriving her twin a second gold thanks to a slightly superior execution score.
Japan, Bulgaria in bronze
While the Russian flag has waved almost continuously over World podiums during the past several years, the Japanese have to look back to 1975 for the last time one of their countrywomen won an individual medal. With bronze for her elegant Hoop routine, Kaho Minagawa, a 20-year-old from Chiba, ended the country’s 42 year wait for another one.
A graceful exercise with the Ball allowed Neviana Vladinova to offer Bulgaria its first World medal — also bronze — since 2011. Though its Rhythmic roots run deep, in recent years Bulgaria has lacked the depth that made it a powerhouse during the 1980s. With her medal, Vladinova, the 2017 FIG World Cup series winner with the Ball, has given Bulgaria’s new generation of hopefuls something to target as Sofia prepares to host the World Championships in 2018.
The Nigeria Football Federation and Zenith International Bank on Wednesday in Lagos held a press conference to launch the second edition of the NFF/Zenith Bank U13/U15 Future Eagles Stars Championship.
At the event, held inside the offices of Lagos State Football Association, Onikan were NFF 1st Vice President/Chairman of Youth Football Committee, Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi, Zenith Bank’s Head of Digital Marketing, Mr. Pascal Or, Member of NFF Youth Football Committee, Mr. Dotun Coker, NFF’s Director of Communications, Mr. Ademola Olajire and Zenith Bank’s Head of Media, Akin Olaniyan.
Akinwunmi disclosed that calls have gone out for entries from the States for the second edition, with 10th September set as deadline for entries, and the zonal finals to take place 13th – 16th September. The group stage matches/final of U13/semi finals of U15 will come up in Kano 20th -23rd September, while the Final of the U15 will come up on a date to be agreed with the sponsors, and will also have the Future Eagles play against a top academy as curtain raiser.
“The NFF as an institution remains very grateful to Zenith Bank for this partnership, which has enabled us to give fillip to our vision of youth football development. The first edition produced players who form our U15 National Team (Future Eagles) that recently impressed in a two –match tour of Morocco against the Morocco U15 squad.
“For this second edition, we have planned for it to be much bigger, and we have the support of Zenith Bank. We are committed to sustaining the credibility and integrity of the championship through thorough screening that will take several stages and dimensions, and we also want to breed the next generation of Nigerian referees by using very young referees.”
Akinwunmi, also Chairman of NFF Football Committee, also revealed that his committee will insist on coaches who have a minimum of CAF C License to handle the teams, making case for young, agile, educated and certificated trainers to grow the future stars. “I can assure you that this is one project that the entire NFF Board is passionate about. It is about building good, diligent and wonderful people who are proud to be Nigerians.”
Pascal Or expressed Zenith Bank’s excitement at being involved in the programme: “When a good idea is thoroughly packaged, you know from the onset that it will be successful. The NFF has done brilliantly well with the way they handled the first edition and the plans they have unveiled for the second championship.
“My challenge goes to other organisations to get involved in forms of youth development programmes. The youth is the heart and soul of every nation. Zenith Bank is keen to continue to support and be identified with this programme.”
After nine editions of hosting a World Cup event in Rhythmic Gymnastics, the seaside city of Pesaro, Italy welcomes the most high profile competition on the sport’s yearly calendar: the World Championships, beginning Wednesday, August 30 at the Adriatic Arena.
More than 250 gymnasts from 53 nations have gathered in the Adriatic-facing city for the five-day climax of the international competition season, an event that will see new World champions crowned in the individual All-around as well as with the Hoop, Ball, Clubs and Ribbon. The 2015 World and 2016 Olympic medallists are all absent, paving the way for a new group of stars to rise. In Group competition, meanwhile, World and Olympic champion Russia seeks to defend its overall title.
At his first World Championships as FIG President, Morinari Watanabe sees the competition as a showcase for one of the most graceful of all Gymnastics disciplines. “The Rio Olympic Games have shown us that interest in Rhythmic Gymnastics is growing in countries around the world,” President Watanabe underlined. “The numbers of participants in Rhythmic are rising as a result. It is our role as the international federation to aid efforts to grow the sport and to make this beautiful discipline even more well known, and we will continue on this path.”
The city that boasts composer Gioachino Rossini as a native is delighted to welcome athletes whose sport is so intertwined with music, underlined Italian Gymnastics Federation President Gherardo Tecchi, himself a native of the region. “Italy has elected Pesaro, already a European capital for Sport 2017, as the reference point for Rhythmic Gymnastics. Also well-known is the performance of our Rhythmic Group ‘Farfalle,’ and an organisation that has put on nine fantastic editions of a stop on the World Cup circuit. Therefore I wish all the gymnasts competing to give the best of themselves and to finish on a high note,” he said.
Organising Italy’s first World Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics has been “a dream come true,” added Paola Porfiri, President of the Organising Committee of the Pesaro World Championships. “The best of Rhythmic Gymnastics, both of teams and individuals, will be in Pesaro this week. It will be an outstanding show that will generate enthusiasm in the public. The presence at these Championships of a living icon of the discipline such as Alina Kabaeva as Rhythmic Gymnastics Ambassador will make this event unforgettable. She was, and still is, an idol for many gymnasts.”
Nasarawa Amazons forward Ikeh Ginika, has pointed out that the Nigeria Women Premier League (NWPL) Super 4 is one of the team’s aspirations this season.
The 2013 NWPL champions finished second behind Delta Queens in the Group B of the regular season to book their place in the tourney tagged “Edo 2017”.
Matches will take place at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium from 12th to 15th September in Benin City.
Speaking to Nwfl.com.ng, Ikeh insisted that along with her teammates, though they are highly motivated ahead of their clash with Bayelsa Queens on Tuesday 12th September, they will have to remain realistic when they face the Yenegoa-based club, and take each game as it comes.
“Last season we fought hard to win the league title but narrowly lost out to Rivers Angels. We have a lot of confidence coming to this competition,” stated Ikeh.
“We have had a great preparation; the desire to win every match in the tournament is there, but we also have to be realistic and take one game at a time.
“The success of the regular season is in the past; now we have to fight again and try to win our first match against Bayelsa Queens. We cannot think of the final (of the Super 4) now because we have three matches to play before we get there.
“The important thing now is to start the competition on a high and wait for the next challenge,” she said.
Nasarawa Amazons will face Bayelsa Queens in the opening match of the competition at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City on 12th September 2017.