Category Archives: Feature

2020 SPORTS FESTIVAL FACILITY TOUR: Dalung Thrilled By Quality Of Structures…

The Nigeria Minister of Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalung on Monday commended the Government of Edo State for its preparedness to host the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival billed for 2020.

The sports minister who paid an unscheduled visit to the state to assess the level of work at facilities for the Games now being referred to as “Benin 2020”, was left speechless after inspecting facilities at the various locations designated for the hosting of the games. The facilities include the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin Technical College and the University of Benin.

“I must confess that from what I have seen on ground, the Edo State Government is more prepared for the hosting of the National Sports Festival than I had imagined. Of course, there is still the need for some touches here and there but that is where the Federal Government comes in because the National Sports Festival is a Federal Government event. Even the University of Benin from the facilities I see on ground, can successfully host the games and I seize the opportunity to commend the founding fathers of the institution for this great initiative. I am totally happy with all the locations visited here in Benin-City”, the minister declared.

Asked to comment on the renovation work done so far on the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Dalung said he was more than satisfied.

“The contractor has already assured that the stadium will be ready by April. The stadium from what I have seen is capable of becoming the best in the country but I have already advised the Edo State Government not to compromise quality. The stadium is going to become not only a state monument but also a national monument hence the need to emphasise the use of quality materials and products”, the minister stated.

Responding on behalf of the Edo State Government, Barrister Godwin Dudu-Orumen, the Chairman Edo State Sports Commission re-iterated the readiness of the state to host the best national sports festival. He said the state will leave no stone unturned to achieve this.

“The Governor Godwin Obaseki led administration is already re-constructing the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium to international standard and we are building 20 mini stadia in the 18 local governments of the state. We not only want to host the games, we want it to be the best ever since the inception of the games and you can rest assured that we are going to put every machinery in place to achieve that”, he stated.

Edo State was awarded the hosting rights for the 20th National Sports Festival last December in Abuja at the close of the 19th edition which was also held in Abuja.

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NFF Empathises With Kanu, Calls On Police To Track Down Burglars

The Nigeria Football Federation on Tuesday expressed concern over the burgling of the property of former Nigeria captain Nwankwo Kanu, with valuables such as medals, plaques and trophies carted away in the heartbreaking infraction.

Reports in the media on Tuesday said valuables were carted away from Kanu’s Hardley Hotel Suites in Victoria Island, Lagos, less than a week after the Nigeria legend attended the African Football Awards ceremony in Dakar, Senegal.

“Our superstar and former captain is in intense pain at this period, and we empathise with him. This ia tragedy. Losing precious possessions like medals, trophies and plaques can be heartbreaking.

“We respectfully call on the Nigeria Police and other security agencies to work hard at unravelling the perpetrators of these nefarious act. Kanu worked very hard from a humble beginning to accumulate whatever he has today and to earn those precious valaubles,” NFF President, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick, said in Lagos.

Pinnick insisted the thieves should at least have considered the charitable works of the former Nigeria captain, in helping young Nigerians with heart defects to overcome their medical conditions, before carrying out their dastardly act.

“Kanu brought immense joy and celebration to many homes across Nigeria, Africa and the world, while playing for the Nigeria U17 team that won the FIFA World Cup, the U23 team that he captained to Olympic gold in Atlanta in 1996 and the Super Eagles for which he featured at three FIFA World Cup finals. He also served several top Clubs in world football, giving them and their fans nothing but immeasurable joy. He has also been spending heavily, through his Kanu Heart Foundation, in getting medical attention for young Africans with heart defects to be cured and live normal lives.

A distraught Kanu after the incident

“He does not deserve this cruel fate. Our confidence in the Nigeria Police and indeed other security agencies to hunt down these criminals is unshaken. We stand with Kanu at this low moment and we believe he will overcome and put the sad incident behind him soonest.”

Nwankwo Kanu won the FIFA U17 World Cup with Nigeria in 1993, narrowly missed the Super Eagles’ cut for the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the USA but then featured at the 1998, 2002 and 2010 World Cups for Nigeria. He also played for Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations between 2000 – 2010, winning one silver and four bronze medals.

He captained Nigeria’s U23 team to win Africa’s first –ever Olympic football gold, in USA in 1996, after which he survived heart surgery. He then played for Inter Milan FC of Italy, Arsenal FC, Portsmouth FC and West Bromwich Albion FC (all in England), winning trophies with the teams.

In 1995, alongside compatriot Finidi George, Nwankwo Kanu won the European Champions League (forerunner of the Champions League) with Ajax Amsterdam FC of Holland.

Lagos SWAN Picks January 25th For CANON Training

The Lagos Chapter of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria in partnership with Canon Nigeria will hold the inaugural training of its members at its secretariat on Friday, January, 25th 2019.

The training is part of the capacity building agreement signed between Lagos SWAN and one of the leading manufacturers in the field of professional and consumer imaging equipment and information systems.

The one- day training to be anchored by Taiwo Adediran, Peter Okojie, John Oyedokun and John Obembe will focus on photography training, product lineup and usage, videography and printing category training.

Speaking on the training Lagos SWAN chairman, Debo Oshundun described the partnership as a landmark achievement by the association to develop its members and make them relevant in the ever evolving world of journalism.

“To ensure that knowledge gained during the training is not lost, CANON has magnanimously agreed to fix practical sessions for the February 2, 2019 during the Lagos City Marathon.

“At the executive level of Lagos SWAN, we shall leave no stone unturned to ensure that our association and members remain competitive”, Oshundun said.

Debo Osundun, Lagos SWAN Chairman

According to the Channel Account Manager, Canon Central and North Africa, Obembe Oluwaseyi John, Canon will also be fulfilling promises made to encourage sales of products through a spot-on offer which will be beneficial only to SWAN registered members.

“Members who attended the training will have the opportunity of purchasing our products at a discounted price within the agreed time frame.”

Interested members of the Lagos Chapter and sister chapters are enjoined to register at the Secretariat located at the National Stadium, Surulere for the one-day event which is expected to start at 9 am.

Taribo West, Edafe, Akande Light Up Minds At Footballers Connect

Former Super Eagles defender Taribo West, Eseoghene Matthew Edafe and Hong Kong based international Alexander Tayo Akande lit up several minds with their experiences at the maiden edition of Footballers Connect, an initiative of Hay Sports.

Footballers Connect is an event aimed at bridging the gap between up and coming footballers, professionals and ex-internationals.

Over 200 young footballers, coaches and administrators were thrilled by the experiences of the speakers who shared stories about their travails and success.

Former Nigeria defender Taribo West revealed that he was a victim of a “slave contract” for close to a decade of his football career.

“I played in Auxerre for free,” Taribo West said. I was playing under a contract for five years without knowing the contents and conditions binding the contract.

The ex-Inter Milan and AC Milan defensive trojan stated that he never understood what he signed as it was written in French which saw him perform in unbearable condition, despite being a member of the Ligue 1 outfit.

He advised that every footballer should ensure they are properly represented while signing professional contracts else they fall victim.

“After the third year, Arsenal, Juventus, Glasgow Rangers and Sevilla Betis came for me,” he added.

“I went to the coach stating that I wanted to leave but he sat me down and showed me my contract terms with Auxerre. I saw the details of what I had signed. Where my fellow defenders were earning as high as 120,000 French Francs, I was going home with 3000 French Francs.

“I wanted to set Auxerre on fire that day. Immediately, I called my manager who was turning me left and right [while] enjoying himself in Senegal.”

He continued: “One day I went to see my coach after training where I met a certain manager who told me about five clubs were interested in signing me up. On the table I saw Arsenal, Juventus, Glasgow Rangers, Betis Sevilla and Inter Milan.

“He began to make calls and Inter was the destination, I signed the contract papers without knowing its content yet again.”

Taribo West further revealed that while he was working hard on the field of play, with false stories of his lavish lifestyle in the media, it was his manager who was smiling to the bank.

He, however, urged young footballers to always seek professional help, especially before making decisions.

Also speaking at the event was ex-footballer turned sports broadcaster, Eseoghene Matthew Edafe who strongly advised that aspiring footballers and their clubs must begin to take seriously how they interact with the conventional media, and the social media.

He explained that players must understand that the media is a powerful tool which can either make or mar their careers.

While addressing grassroots club owners, he urged that they make insurance of their players a pivotal part of the developmental process in a bid to secure the future of youngsters.

Yabian Fude striker Alexander Tayo Akande, on his part, revealed in details how he moved from Nigeria to Asia, rose through adversity with hard work to becoming a member of the Hong Kong senior national team.

Amos Joseph, Strategist for Hay Sports and convener of Footballers Connect added: “We wanted to show people that there is a lot happening in the football space unaddressed and these things are affecting young players in their quest to becoming professionals, and seeking greener pastures. It was great to bring the guests along to help us reveal these things”

One of the beneficiaries, Enitan Ajayi said: “This is a message all footballers must hear. Imagine Taribo’s story despite playing at that level, he still fell victim of a “slave contract”.”

According to Hay Sports, organisers of Footballers Connect, the next edition of the event is scheduled for the first quarter of 2019.

Mourinho Out At Old Trafford

Manchester United have today announced the sack of Club Manager Jose Mourinho, This announcement has come on the of the 3-1 defeat at Anfield on Sunday (December 17th 2018).

Mourinho’s sack comes 2 and a half years into his stay at the club. He was brought in to replace Dutch tactician Louis Van Gaal who was sacked a few days earlier.

The Self styled “special one” was an instant hit at the club as he won the Community Shield against the defending champions Leicester City on the 7th of August 2016. He also masterminded the 3-2 victory over Southampton to lift the EFL Cup.

The feat made the Portuguese coach the first manager to win silverware in his first year at Manchester United.

Jose Mourinho also guided the former English champions to Europa Cup victory over Ajax in Stockholm in a game that ended 2-0 in favour of the “Red Devils”, The team however failed to win another silverware when the opportunity presented itself in the Super Cup when the faced Mourinho’s former club Real Madrid.

United’s current season has been topsy turvy at best with the team crashing out in the early stages of the Carabao Cup to lowly Bristol City who trashed Mourinho’s Side 2-1 on the 20th of December 2017.

Mourinho was however rewarded with a contract extension on the 26th of January 2018, The contract was to run until 2020.

His running battle with some of his top players is well documented with French Midfielder Paul Pogba the most obvious one.

Jose Mourinho
Дмитрий Голубович [CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL, CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday’s loss to league leaders Liverpool must have been the final straw for the Old Trafford management with United 19 points behind their North England Rivals.

Many will say that Mourinho has fallen to the third year jinx that has seen him leave most of the clubs he has managed in the third year of his employment, while many have questioned his style of management that often sees him at loggerheads with his players and of course his constant run-ins with the media, but no matter what you believe Jose Mourinho Still remains one of the best coaches of the the round leather game, and this is evident with amount of trophies he has won at every club he has managed.

The real question now is who replaces Mourinho at the Theatre of Dreams

SPORTS FESTIVAL: Edo State Groans Under The Weight Of Bloated Contingent…

SPORTS FESTIVAL: Edo State groans under the weight of bloated contingent as athletes, coaches suffer neglect

As other states settle down to competition at the 19th edition of the National Sports Festival, which got underway yesterday, Edo State is groaning under the weight of an over-bloated contingent.

With 591 athletes and officials, Edo State has the largest contingent at the games.

Checks reveal that more than a third of this number are not athletes but individuals smuggled into the team for personal reasons. These individuals investigations revealed, have been given preferential treatment over athletes and coaches who are the main actors at the festival.

Whilst coaches and their athletes have been struggling to get themselves accommodated and paid their outstanding camping allowances and settle down to compete, these individuals smuggled into the team have since been settled into comfortable accommodation.

“We have been treated like orphans right from Benin City. We had trained for about two weeks courtesy of the generosity of our coaches who funded the exercise because the state refused to provide funds.

“We travelled overnight on Wednesday and arrived in Abuja yesterday(Thursday) morning and were driven straight to the stadium. Even after the opening ceremony, we were huddled into the bus and spent the night without being accommodate,” an aggrieved female athlete said.

Generally, within the Edo State camp there was a general atmosphere of disquiet as athletes and officials, abandoned to their fate, wondered who exactly was in charge.

An angry coach told this reporter that their patience had breaking point. He said that since he had been attending sports festivals, he had not seen the kind of disorganisation and confusion like the one that has attended Edo State’s preparation for this games.

“It is very unfortunate what is happening here. We don’t know exactly what is happening or who is in charge. When you ask questions the response you get is, ‘we are looking into the matter’. In the end nothing gets done,” the coach who asked that his name not be mentioned, said.

National Sports Festival 2018
photo credit: National Sports Festival

A visibly disturbed Barrister Godwin Dudu-Orumen, the newly appointed chairman of the Edo State Sports Commission (ESSC) refused to respond to questions on the development within the camp as he shrugged off all entreaties to make him talk.

Checks by this paper revealed the existence of multiple lines of authority as certain officials in the delegation attempt to bypass and undermine the authority of the chairman of the commission.

Despite the drawbacks, Edo athletes managed to focus on their events, winning a few medals in events like powerlifting and table tennis on the opening day of the competition.

It is not clear whether Edo State Governor; Godwin Obaseki is in the know of developments within his state’s camp. The Governor, who was at the opening ceremony of the games on Thursday December 6, had assured the contingent of support in their quest to win laurels for the state.

Ukraine Based Ex- Eagles Star Eyes Nigerian League

Ukraine based ex-Nigeria international and UEFA A licensed coach Eddy Dombraye, has declared his intentions to return to Nigerian football, albeit as a coach.

Speaking from his base in Kiev, the former Volyn Lutsk forward expressed his delight with the growth of Nigerian league, particularly, the standard and the playing facilities.

Dombraye who once plied his trade in the Nigerian league with Bendel Insurance of Benin, winning the WAFU cup with the “Benin Arsenal” and Iwuanyanwu Nationale where he emerged as top scorer, was upbeat about his desires to make a huge impact on the Nigerian league.

Eddy Dombraye
Photo credit: Eddy Dombraye

” I have been following the Nigerian league and understands its challenges and the intricacies,” he said.
” I have had a few contacts with some clubs in Nigeria, but I want a team with ambitions to be champions” he added.

Dombraye who is currently attached to FC Arsenal Kiev U17 side, is optimistic of winning a title within two years of handling a team in Nigeria.

Akeem Busari