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Sports Sector to get N80bn Under National Development Plan – Minister

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Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Sunday Dare, says the sports sector will receive N80 billion in the next four years, under the Federal Government’s National Development Plan (NDP).

Dare said this in Abuja while receiving the “Outstanding Youth and Sports Minister” award, presented to him by the Executive Board of Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), led by its President, Habu Gumel.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the award was presented to the minister for his contributions to sports development in Nigeria and the Olympic movement.

Dare said that a percentage of the NDP fund for sports sector would go directly to sports federations since they were the main propellers of athletes’ success, which had now been attributed to him.

“I salute the resilience of the sports federations. Their sacrifices and work in developing sports in Nigeria deserve commendation.

“In spite of the challenges of funding, they still turn up for international competitions, thereby giving the athletes the needed exposure and training required to compete at the elite level.

“We all know that without these athletes, nothing is possible in sports, while there will be no achievements,” he said.

The minister also identified funding as one of the biggest challenges of sports development in Nigeria, a problem, he said that the newly-approved National Sports Industry Policy (NSIP) would alleviate.

“The incentives outlined in the Sports as Business Policy have been approved and will be announced soon.

“The technical committee has put finishing touches to the document and it will become fully operational soon.

“This will drive private sector support for sports and there will be a massive turnaround, as the funding issue will be confronted headlong.

“In the last four years, the sports ministry had moved from being a third tier ministry to being a first tier one.

“Just a few weeks back, the Federal Government approved N2.4 billon for a High Performance Centre to be established inside the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.

“Before then, there was the Anti Doping Centre to be established in Nsukka, Enugu State,” he said.

Dare commended NOC for offering scholarships to many Nigerian athletes and combining its participation in sports with education.

Earlier, Gumel commended the minister for his numerous achievements, some of which, he said, included: the emergence of the National Sports Industry Policy (NSIP) and the ‘Adopt Initiative’.

Other achievements, he said, were the revamping of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), payment of monthly stipends to the families of departed sports icons as well as provision of financial support to ailing former and active athletes.

According to the NOC president, another remarkable legacy is the delivery of the headquarters and secretariat of Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) by the federal government.

He recalled that the ANOCA secretariat was inaugurated by the President of International Olympic Committee (IOC), Dr Thomas Bach.

Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Sports and Youth Development, Alhaji Ismaila Abubakar, thanked the minister for his ‘wonderful’ performance in office.

Abubakar, while wishing Dare well in his future endeavours, called for stronger cooperation between the ministry and the Olympic family. (NAN) 

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SPORTS

Para Badminton: Bolaji, Chigozie qualify for Paris 2024 Paralympics

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The duo of Mariam Eniola Bolaji and Jeremiah Chigozie have qualified for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games coming up from 28th August to 8th September.

According to the Badminton World Federation, Multiple African Champion, Mariam Bolaji will represent Nigeria in the Women’s Singles Standing Lower 3 (SL3) while Jeremiah Chigozie represents Nigeria in the Men’s Singles Standing Lower 4 (SL4).

An elated Francis Orbih, President of Badminton Federation of Nigeria said the qualification of Mariam Bolaji and Jeremiah Chigozie is a testimony of hard work, consistency and perseverance.

Orbih who was full of joy revealed that Nigeria stands a good chance to make history by winning medals in para badminton in her debut appearance.

He said, “Today, history has been made as two players for the first time will be representing Nigeria in the para badminton event at the Paralympic Games. I am full of joy because the sacrifices of the players and the Federation were not in vain.

“Mariam Bolaji and Jeremiah Chigozie have consistently attended the African Championship winning gold medals in the singles and doubles events. Last month, Mariam Bolaji won two gold medals at the Spanish Internationals in Victoria and Toledo putting her in a better position to make it to the Paralympics; which has become a reality.

“With adequate camping, foreign tours and proper funding, I believe Nigeria will win a medal in the Para Badminton event when we make our debut this year”.

Orbih once again, called on well meaning individuals to support the Badminton Federation of Nigeria in ensuring the athletes get maximum support ahead of the Olympic/Paralympic Games in Paris next August.

He said, “I will not get tired of calling on the Federal Government of Nigeria and the private sector to key into our brand and give more support to the Badminton Federation of Nigeria. We have athletes who are marketable and will sell their brands to the world with their sterling performances”.

Mariam Eniola Bolaji shocked the world by winning her first gold medal at the Spanish Para badminton International 2021 beating Oksana Kozyna from Ukraine.

Bolaji won the women’s singles SL3 at the Uganda Para Badminton International 2023, All African Para Badminton Championship 2023 (Doubles and Mixed Doubles).

She won gold medals at the 5th Fazza Dubai Para Badminton International 2023, Egypt Para Badminton International 2024, World Para Badminton Championship 2024 in Thailand and Spanish Para Badminton International 2024.

Bolaji is also the first African player to be ranked among the top 10 in the BWF world rankings as she is currently ranked number 5 in the world.

Meanwhile, Jeremiah Chigozie won bronze medal at the Uganda Para Badminton International 2023 and three gold medals at African Para Badminton Championship 2023

He played a lesser number of championships compared to Eniola; playing in Egypt, Dubai, and World Championship in Thailand.

Chigozie got to the quarter finals in the men’s singles SL4 category in Thailand and currently ranked number 16 in the recent BWF para Badminton ranking.

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SPORTS

Tinubu Congratulates Table Tennis Champion, Aruna Quadri Over ITTF Trophy

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President Bola Tinubu has congratulated Nigeria’s table tennis pacesetter, Aruna Quadri, on winning the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Africa Cup title.

Quadri achieved a resounding victory in the final match of the 2024 ITTF Africa Cup in Rwanda, reclaiming his title and sealing his place as Africa’s table tennis champion.

 

The President commended the table tennis star for his dogged pursuit of excellence even in the face of gnawing obstacles, declaring that the zeal for distinction, the hardiness to succeed, and the inventiveness to solve complex problems are the exceptional qualities that define Nigerians.

The President also noted the recent progress in the nation’s sports sector, with remarkable performances in the African Games, the Africa Cup of Nations, and the World Relay Championships, and emphasized that his administration will continue to foster the growth and development of sports in the country.

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SPORTS

NFF Appoints Finidi George as Super Eagles’ Head Coach

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The Board of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has appointed Finidi George as Head Coach of the Senior Men National Football Team, the Super Eagles.

A statement by Ademola Olajire, NFF’s Director of Communications, on Monday said the NFF approved the recommendation of its Technical and Development Committee to appoint George.

Reports says that the ace winger spent 20 months as assistant to José Peseiro before the Portuguese voluntarily left the post after guiding the team to silver medal at AFCON in Cote d’Ivoire.

George took charge of the squad in acting capacity during two friendly matches in Morocco last month.

His squad edged Ghana 2-1 in the first match, ending an 18-year winless streak against the Black Stars, but then lost 0-2 to Mali in the second game.

He was a member of the so-styled ‘Golden Generation’ that won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Tunisia.

The team also emerged the second most entertaining team in Nigeria’s debut at the FIFA World Cup finals in USA the same year.

George won 62 caps for Nigeria, including featuring at the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cup finals. He also won gold, silver and bronze medals from the 1992, 1994, 2000 and 2002 AFCON tournaments.

The 52-year-old former Ajax Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and Real Betis (Spain) forward made a scoring debut for fatherland in an AFCON qualifying match against Burkina Faso at the National Stadium, Lagos, on July 27, 1991.

He also featured for Calabar Rovers and Sharks FC in the domestic scene before heading to Europe.

He assisted Rashidi Yekini (of blessed memory) to score Nigeria’s first-ever FIFA World Cup goal against Bulgaria in Dallas, USA, on 19th June 1994.

George had actually scored the goal that took Nigeria to that FIFA World Cup debut, when he put Nigeria ahead against hosts Algeria in a crucial qualifier in Algiers on 8th October, 1993.

The match eventually ended 1-1 and earned Nigeria a ticket to the finals in America.

George’s immediate task will be to guide the Super Eagles to victory in two 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin Republic in Uyo and Abidjan respectively, in a little over five weeks.

The matches are must-win encounters, with the Super Eagles lagging behind in third place in Group C of the African campaign behind Rwanda and South Africa.(NAN)

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