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D’banj Leads Nigeria to Motorsport Championships




Nigerian artiste, Oladipo Daniel Oyebanjo, popularly known as D’banj, has was on Friday unveiled as Captain of the Racing Nigeria Motorsport Team.

This is in preparation for the Federation International de l’ Automobile (FIA) World Championships in October.

D’banj was unveiled at a ceremony in Abuja attended by motor sport personalities like Alhaji Mahdi Mohammed, the Deputy Governor of Zamfara.

Ishaku Bamaiyi, President, Automobile and Touring Club of Nigeria (ATCN), said the unveiling was the first step towards preparing the country’s representatives for the world championships scheduled for Marseille, France.

“The first FIA Motorsport Games held in Rome, Italy, in 2019, saw the participation of about 46 countries in the championship.

“The next event was scheduled for October 2020 but due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was postponed and rescheduled for October 2021, thereby creating room to increase the motorsports disciplines from six to 18.

“The FIA having reviewed our plans for the development of Motorsports in Nigeria asked that the ATCN puts together a team that will participate in the FIA Motorsport Games in 2021.

“This gave birth to Festival of Motorsport which will serve as our qualifying series for the FIA Motorsport Games to give everyone the opportunity to try out his or her skills.

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“With the exception of the Karting Sprint Junior and Senior, all other disciplines are mix gender with a minimum of two participants and maximum of four participants in a team in the discipline we intend to compete in.

“We intend to compete in the following disciplines – Karting junior and senior, Karting endurance, Karting Slalom, Auto Slalom, Digital Games, Drifting and Rally 2,” Bamaiyi said.

He said a Festival of Motorsport is scheduled to hold between June 16 and June 19 in Abuja to further hone the talents of participants at the World Championship.

The Deputy Governor of Zamfara, who won a ‘Motor Treasure Hunt’ in 2014, said Nigerian youths would benefit from Motorsport.

“Motorsport will engage youths because one doesn’t need to go to school to know how to drive a fast car, or to be part of the car race.

“We have a future in Motorsport if we harness the talents, and you know that Nigerians do very well in every sport they participate in,” he said.

Mohammed urged the leadership of the ATCN to be proactive in pursuing its objectives and to also select the best representatives for the world championships.

He assured the association of his support toward a successful hosting of the Festival of Motorsport and the world event in France.

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Earlier, D’banj commended the group for picking him as Team Captain, noting that his energy would propel the country to victory at the world event.

“You know me as a pacesetter and being the first time this is happening in Nigeria, I am looking forward to us winning.

“Motorsport is good for us now that we are talking about creativity; when you look at the creative industry, even those of them in sports, they think creative industry is only about music or movies.

“But I say no because for you to be a successful sportsman, you have to be creative, just like Lewis Hamilton in Formula One that started Motorsport from a tender age.

“We should all support this initiative because it will create jobs for the youths. My expectation is to make sure the right funding and investment needed to propel the sports is achieved,” he said.

Mr Jelani Aliyu, Director-General, National Automotive Design and Development Council, said that there were lots of talents in the country for Motorsport.

“This is an opportunity for us, not just the sport itself, but for us in the automotive industry to advance our activity in the country,” he said. (NAN)

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French Open: Djokovic Ready for Nadal Showdown




Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal will add another chapter to their rivalry when they face off in a much-anticipated clash today but there will be more at stake than just a spot in the Roland Garros final.

A semifinal battle between world No 1 Djokovic and 13-time Roland Garros winner Nadal was the expected outcome once they were placed on the same side of the draw after the Spaniard slipped down the rankings to third behind Russian Daniil Medvedev.

It would be a 58th career meeting between the pair with Nadal looking to draw level with Djokovic on 29 wins while the victor would also book a 29th Grand Slam final appearance, behind only Roger Federer on 31.

The 35-year-old Spaniard, a year older than Djokovic, is, however, the more dominant of the two on clay and has gone on to win the title at Roland Garros all 13 times he has reached the last-four stage.

Djokovic, who lost to Nadal in a one-sided final last year, and the retired Robin Soderling are the only players to have defeated the Spaniard on the red clay in Paris.

“I’m confident. I believe I can win, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. Let’s have a great battle,” Djokovic said of the matchup.

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A win on Friday will also give the victor a chance to shake up the race for the most men’s major titles.

Nadal could take sole ownership of the record with a win on Sunday and move ahead of Federer with 21 titles while a second Roland Garros trophy would move Djokovic to 19.

German Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece meet in the other semifinal with both chasing a maiden Grand Slam title.

Many pundits believe that the four best men’s players have reached the last-four stage and the odds are no longer heavily stacked against the younger generation to upset Nadal and Djokovic in a major final.

“When you looked at the draw this is the dream scenario,” seven-time major winner and Eurosport tennis expert Mats Wilander said.

“This is one of the first times I have felt this but regardless of who wins between Rafa and Novak this is going to be tough against Tsitsipas or Zverev – they have a great chance to win their first Grand Slam, a great chance.”

While Zverev reached the 2020 US Open final, Tsitsipas, 22, has lost all his three previous Grand Slam semifinals, but the Greek will head into the match with a 5-2 lead in previous matchups.

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Boris Becker, a six-time major winner and a former world No 1, believes the gap between ‘king of clay’ Nadal and the other title aspirants at Roland Garros was decreasing.

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NSSF Urges Governments to Intensify Efforts at Reviving Athletics in Schools




The Nigeria Schools Sports Federation (NSSF) has urged governments at all levels to revive the athletics sport in secondary schools so as to develop future sports champions for the country.

Dickson Tinism, NSSF’s Vice President 1, made the call while speaking with journalists at the 2021 Maltina School Games on Thursday in Bauchi.

He said track and field sports, such as shot-put, high jump, running and long jump, among others, have been neglected in schools.

Tinism added that there was the need for governments at all levels to revive such sports by providing facilities and encouraging students to participate.

“The Maltina School Games has been an avenue for supporting an all-round development of young people through physical activities and sports across the country.

“We should be grateful to Maltina for organising such a competition to complement government efforts in sports activities.”

Tinism, who is also the Adamawa State Coordinator of NSSF, explained that the Maltina School Games platform was carefully designed to promote the development of children.

“From improving their social and leadership skills to bettering their well-being through sports, the Games have well designed.

“Sports and education have been veritable instruments of lifting millions out of poverty and for Maltina, with its School Games initiative, more people will enjoy the results.

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“The platform is getting the needed attraction that will further aid the development of talents in the country,” he said.

On his part, Mikhail Adamu, a Director in the Bauchi State Ministry of Youth and Sports, commended the efforts of Maltina in encouraging the young students.

“Maltina has played its part by creating a talent expressive platform for young boys and girls to develop themselves.

“This is unlike in my days, when we only participated in inter-house sports and occasionally in invitational school relay races.

“This platform from Maltina is one that will open the doors for more opportunities for young athletes in the country, “ he said.

Chiamaka Kingsley, a student at Central Junior Secondary School Alkaleri, said the competition has motivated her and others  to continue with sports.

“I got a medal from the 400 metres competition, and I am overwhelmed because this is my first time. This is the beginning and I will not relent,” she said.

Kingsley also called on government to provide school sports facilities and organise competitions among schools to get the best athletes among the young ones.

The overall best athletes of the Maltina School Games would be announced after compilation of the results.

Meanwhile, three schools emerged winners of the parade.

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The first winners, Divine International School, got a cash prize of N500,000, and the second winners were Sa’adu Zungur Secondary School who got N300,000.

The third winners were Adamu Jumba Junior School who got N200,000.(NAN)

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Ex-Nigeria U23 Captain Joins Croatian Club NK Istra 1961




Former Nigeria U23 captain Erhun Obanor has ended speculation about his future by joining Croatian top-flight club NK Istra 1961 on a free transfer.

NK Istra 1961 have announced through their Facebook page that Obanor is a new player of the club without disclosing the financial terms and duration of the deal. can exclusively report that the ex-Dream Team VI star has signed a two-year contract with NK Istra 1961, until the end of the 2022-2023 season.

Obanor’s past club KF Laci were keen to retain his services for the forthcoming season but the central defender opted to move on to pastures new.

The 25-year-old is presently in Benin City and is planning to link up with his new club at the end of the month as he has to apply for a visa.

Obanor had attracted interest from clubs in Azerbaijan and South Africa before settling for NK Istra 1961.

He is the second Nigerian played signed by NK Istra 1961 this week, after onetime Golden Eaglets invitee Theophilus Solomon, who joins from Kuwaiti side Qadsia SC.

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