Category Archives: Feature

Lagos SWAN Unveils Bet9ja as Title Sponsors for Lagos SWAN Cup 2018

Foremost betting company Bet9ja has taken over the sponsorship of the Lagos state Sports Writers Association of Nigeria annual SWAN cup competition.

According to the Brands and Communications Manager of Bet9ja Tunji Mesh,” We have decided to take over the sponsorship of the Lagos State SWAN cup in recognition of the crucial role of the body in sports development.

Debo Oshundun, Chairman Lagos SWAN

Moreover as partners in progress we have a duty to ensure that the SWAN members enjoy sound health by keeping fit through the competition and also have fun.

This is in furtherance of our commitment to healthy living and to support sports writers to practice what they preach every day.”

Mesh assured that Bet9ja would give every financial and material support to SWAN to sustain the competition.

Meanwhile, Chairman of Lagos State SWAN, Mr Debo Oshundun has commended the betting company for taking up the sponsorship of Lagos SWAN Cup.

“We are delighted that Bet9ja has decided to partner with Lagos State SWAN by taking up this sponsorship.

This is a milestone for Bet9ja and SWAN and we are determined to make the partnership work,” Oshundun said.

He, however, said that a press conference to herald the competition and the sponsorship package would take place on Tuesday, Sept. 18, Time is 11am at the Lagos SWAN media centre, National Stadium Lagos.

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Ejidike Reveals Big Plans For Nigerian Sports…Congratulates Boxing Champion Larry Ekundayo

Nigeria’s Pillar Of Sports, Chief Donatus Agu-Ejidike has disclosed his plans to help lift Nigerian sports, particularly, at the grassroots level.

In a chat with the press, the businessman cum philanthropist was upbeat about the potentials of the average Nigerian athlete, which he describes as immense.

Donatus Agu Ejidike

Ejidike who is also a board member of the Nigeria Karate Federation revealed that the office of the Nigeria Pillar Of Sports is set to organise a national karate championship that would be spread across the six geopolitical zones of the country.

“I understand that sports in Nigeria is yet to hit the desired heights. Therefore, I am determined to continue to contribute my quota to the growth of Nigerian sports,” Ejidike stated.

“The next Olympics is just around the corners. We need to have our athletes ready and well motivated. My office is bent on ensuring that this country is well represented at continental and global sports events. As we shall soon roll out plans to help uplift our sports,” he said.

Ejidike went on to express his happiness on the impressive strides of Nigerian athletes in various sporting events. He was particularly, effusive in praises for Nigerian born, UK based IBF welterweight boxing champion Larry Ekundayo, on his recent achievements.

IBF Champion Larry Ekundayo

“I have always maintained that our country is blessed in all of its ramifications. And the recent achievements of Larry Ekundayo as a boxer, further attests to what we can achieve as a people.

“We must rally to encourage such Nigerians to achieve their dreams. I want to implore well meaning Nigerians and corporate bodies to to support our athletes. We shouldn’t leave the development of our sports and athletes to government alone,” Ejidike further stated.

Akeem Busari

Liberian President, Weah, says Nigerian Football is a model

President of the Republic of Liberia, Mr. George Oppong Weah has hailed Nigeria as a great and worthy ally in national development, while describing Nigerian Football as a model that he wants his country to follow.

Speaking after Tuesday night’s exhibition match between the Lone Star and the Super Eagles at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Monrovia, which the Eagles edged 2-1, Weah, a former World Footballer of the Year, revealed that Nigerian Football has always inspired him.

Super Eagles in Liberia,

“As a young, upcoming footballer, I was always fascinated by Nigeria’s football stars. I looked up to the likes of Stephen Keshi, Rashidi Yekini, Friday Ekpo and others and believed that the African footballer can also get to the very top. I believe that in Africa, somewhere, there is another Ballon D’Or winner. We have to find him, expose him to the world and give him the opportunity to actualize his dream,” Weah, who was named African, European and World Footballer of the Year in 1995, said.

While commending the Government of Nigeria, the Nigeria Football Federation and the Super Eagles for the honour done him on the occasion which was to celebrate his contributions to Liberian Football, Weah revealed that as a people, Liberians look up to Nigeria’s pedigree in the round leather game and will work hard to get there.

President Weah (fourth from left) flanked by Dikko (third from left) and Gusau (fourth from right) alongside officials of the Liberian Government and High Commission of Nigeria in Monrovia.

Weah and former national team mate, James Debbah led out the Lone Star against the Super Eagles in a game played in an ambience of warmth, mutual respect and good spirit. Henry Onyekuru and Simeon Nwankwo scored for Nigeria in the first half while Liberia reduced the deficit through a penalty kick in the second half when Oluwasemilogo Ajayi handled in the box.

NFF 2nd Vice President Shehu Dikko and Executive Committee member Ibrahim Musa Gusau led the Nigerian delegation to Monrovia.

I Will Not Be Fulfilled Until I Win a Trophy With The Super Eagles – William Ekong

Ahead of the Super Eagles’ crucial 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against the Pirates of Seychelles in Victoria on Saturday, thenff.com spoke to defender William Ekong on how life has been at his new club in Italy, Udinese FC, and what to expect from the three–time African champions when they regroup in the western Indian Ocean archipelago, for the first time since the FIFA World Cup finals in Russia. Excerpts:

Thenff.com: It’s good to see you making remarkable progress in your career and at good pace as well. What can you attribute this development to?

Skipper Mikel Obi (right) with William Ekong, Kelechi Iheanacho, Oghenekaro Etebo, Chidozie Awaziem and a flight crew member during the World Cup Build-up.

Ekong: It has been hard work, persistence and the help of God. I’m grateful for where I am now but definitely not satisfied yet; I’m looking forward to the next challenge.

Thenff.com: With just few games so far, would you say your arrival in Italy is helping you to become the defender you want to be?

Ekong: It has pulled me out of my comfort zone again and I feel like I’m already making some good progress since my arrival, but I’m only just getting started.

Thenff.com: Now to the national team. The Super Eagles have to quickly get back on track after the disappointment at the FIFA World Cup in Russia. How determined are you and your team to qualify for, and do well at the 2019 AFCON?

Ekong: Yeah it was hard for all of us not to make progress from the group stage at the World Cup. But I still look back with pride about the team because our outing in Russia has definitely made us hungrier to qualify for the 2019 AFCON and to go all the way there.

Thenff.com: You appeared to have gained so much confidence playing with the Super Eagles. How good does this make you feel and what do you think the future holds for you in the team?

Ekong: It has been amazing being able to represent Nigeria for some years now, putting on the green-white-green with pride. I am proud of the medal we brought home to Nigeria from the Olympics Football Tournament in Brazil in 2016, but my big aim is to win something with the Super Eagles. I am really looking forward to that

William Troost-Ekong

Thenff.com: We play Seychelles this week and then Libya in October in back-to-back games. Are you optimistic of the team’s chances in these matches?

Ekong: I think we have demonstrated now that when Nigeria plays at its best there aren’t many teams we have to fear. But it will be a hard job in the next two months and I know the boys and staff are taking these games very serious. But of course, I believe if we perform at our optimum, we will garner the points from the remaining matches and qualify for the final tournament.

India, China, USA and Brazil Top Drivers Of Growth Within Rugby’s 800 Million-Strong Following

\Rugby has nearly 800 million followers globally, while more than 338 million considering themselves fans, with India, China and the USA alone constituting almost 33 per cent of the population, according to the largest-ever market research into fan trends and perceptions conducted by World Rugby.

Published as the Rugby World Cup 2019 trophy tour visits India where there are 25.7 million fans of rugby, the research undertaken by Nielsen Sports paints a picture of a vibrant, growing sport that is increasingly broadening its global appeal.

Rugby is experiencing strong global participation growth with 9.1 million men, women and children (registered and casual participants) regularly playing the game, with growth driven by emerging rugby markets of large populations.
The research, undertaken across 88 markets, reflects participation trends, with significant increases in rugby interest driven by emerging markets since rugby’s Olympic Games inclusion:

* 793 million people follow rugby globally, while 338 million consider themselves as fans – an increase of 24 per cent since 2013

* The fanbase in emerging markets (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and USA) has increased by more than 50 per cent since 2013

* Asia, North America, South America and Africa have the fastest-growing fan-bases with 112.5, 52.8, 38.2 and 32.7 million respectively Of the 338 million fans, China and USA have 33 million fans, India 25 million fans and France 20 million fans, while RWC 2019 hosts Japan are in the top 10 fan-grossing nations with 14 million With the stars of sevens having shone brightly at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in San Francisco where 100,000 fans attended, the research also shows that emerging market fan growth has been driven by the impact and accessibility of the shorter form of the game, including rugby sevens, whose Olympic Games debut at Rio 2016 delivered a 16.8 million new fans across six markets researched immediately after the Games.

Sevens is also a format that World Rugby successfully employs to convert new fans in the digital space, with its high-action, short, easy-to-understand, made for social media format resonating with younger casual sports fans in particular, generating record video views an engagement rates.

Other highlights include:

* The average age of a rugby fan is 36, this has fallen by two years since 2013, while the sport is increasingly attracting a younger audience in emerging rugby markets
* 36 per cent of rugby fans globally are women or girls. In emerging markets, the corresponding figure is 34 per cent
* USA, China, India, Mexico, Brazil and Japan in top 10 fan nations
* Rugby Sevens interest has increased by 6 per cent since its Olympic Games debut at Rio 2016
Across key emerging markets in Asia, North America, South America and Africa, 63 per cent of rugby fans became fans after being inspired by shorter forms of the game

* Participants highlight rugby’s values, fun and health benefits as major attractions to playing
The research reflects World Rugby’s strategic plan to ensure that the sport grows by attracting new audiences, whilst remaining relevant to existing fans by providing invaluable qualitative and quantitative data to shape fan-engagement strategies and benchmark performance via growth and perception trends.

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “World Rugby welcomes this study, which paints a picture of a sport that continues to attract new and younger fans globally. The information will aid our strategic decision-making, assisting World Rugby, our regions and unions in ensuring attractiveness of the game and shaping future fan-engagement programmes.”

Speaking from India during the Rugby World Cup 2019 trophy tour, World Rugby Chief Executive Officer Brett Gosper added: “World Rugby is committed to ensuring a thriving, growing, inclusive game that is accessible to all and this research, which demonstrates significant fan-growth, reflects a sport that is effective in attracting a new, younger audience in non-traditional rugby nations, despite huge competition for eyeballs and attention.

“The research also demonstrates that rugby has significant growth potential in both traditional and non-traditional markets and is increasingly attracting a younger audience. We will use the insight to guide our decision-making and approach to growing fans and participants in rugby globally.

The main motivators for sports fans who are not currently interested in rugby to become fans include making it an easier sport to understand and access to international matches. These are areas that World Rugby and its unions continually review and address through the federation’s Council and Executive Committee.

“I CAN RUN FASTER” CHEPKOECH – NEW WORLD RECORD-HOLDER

On a night of sensational running at a hot and humid Stade Louis II, Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech produced the crowning performance of the tenth IAAF Diamond League meeting of the season as she took more than eight seconds off the women’s world 3000m steeplechase record*, coming home, alone and triumphant, in 8:44.32.

It obliterated the previous mark of 8:52.78 and was the fifth world record set at this gem of a meeting at the business end of the season.

Beatrice Chepkoech
© Kirby Lee

The 27-year-old Chepkoech, who had come into this race with the fastest time of the season, 8:59.36, has never won a major global medal – missing a water jump and having to run back during last year’s World Championship final hardly helped her chances – but she gave an indication of her sharpness this season by taking silver in the Commonwealth Games 1500m final.

“I wanted to break the world record, that was the plan from the beginning of the season,” said Chepkoech. “And I was aware the biggest chance would be at Monaco due to weather, crowds and the whole environment. And this plan worked well.

Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech
© Philippe Fitte,

“I knew I was running fast splits, but I was not worried. I felt strong during the race. I was thinking maybe I can break 8:50 but not at all was I dreaming about 8:44. And this time still could be improved I’m sure. Maybe my next target could be to run under 8:40.

“It is a great feeling I brought back to Kenya the steeplechase world record. I’m very proud of it.”

I Shall Reposition Sports in Ekiti – Fayemi

The gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressive Congress for Ekiti state governorship election Dr. John Kayode Fayemi has promised to take sports in the state to greater heights if he returns as the governor.

Addressing a large gathering of students and different youth groups, including the Ekiti Youths In Sports (EYIS) in Ado-Ekiti yesterday, the former governor expressed his concern for the future of the youths in the state.

During the interactive session with the youths, Fayemi told members of EYIS and other sports stakeholders that he is willing to do everything possible to assist the youths achieve their career dreams.

“My government is poised to encourage and support you to become better citizens and ensure that you achieve your dreams as sportsmen and women and administrators,” Fayemi stated.

The former minister who was fondly reminded of his lofty achievements in the sports sector by the excited youths during his tenure, which included the renovation of the Oluyemi Kayode stadium, as well as his support for grassroots sports development, was quick to state his desire to improve upon the strides he achieved.

Dr John Kayode Fayemi Addressing Ekiti Youths In Sports yesterday

The general coordinator of the Ekiti Youths In Sports, Bayo Olanlege while assuring that the over 10,000 youths involved in sports appreciates his laudable feats in sports during his tenure, he implored Fayemi to assuage the agitation of the youths by doing more for sports if he wins the election.

In his response, Fayemi reiterated that sports is a veritable tool for human development and his government would not relent in its avowed commitment to make the youths grow and flourish in their careers.

“Ekiti state is blessed with young and talented youths. And we shall improve on our supports and encouragement in order to make them become the best in their various fields.

” It is encouraging to note the enthusiasm of our youths and we shall be willing to work with sports groups for the betterment of sports in the state,” he added to warm responses from the gathering.

Akeem Busari