President Muhammadu Buhari has declared his administration’s commitment to use football for the development of the girl-child, inspiring young people to have rewarding careers in the game.
The president stated this when he received the FIFA delegation led by its president Gianni Infantino and the president of Confederation of African Football (CAF) Patrice Motsepe, at State House, Abuja on Thursday.
President Buhari called on the top echelon of football’s world governing body to see Nigeria as “one of its greatest assets when it comes to the development of football’’.
On women’s football, the president expressed delight that Nigeria has produced excellent role models to inspire the next generation of stars to take up the sport.
‘‘Our National women’s football team, the Super Falcons are a force to reckon with both on the continent and internationally.
‘‘Some of our women footballers such as Asisat Oshoala, who only recently became the first African to win the women’s European Champions League with her club Barcelona.
‘‘Rasheedat Ajibade, Rita Chikwelu, Onome Ebi, who is the only African to have played in five FIFA Women’s World Cup Finals, Desire Oparanozie and before them Perpetual Nkwocha, Mercy Akide-Udoh, Nkiru Okosieme and Ann Chiejiene are globally recognized stars,’’ he said.
President Buhari, therefore, urged the leadership of the world football governing body to consider Nigeria top on its plan for support and investment.
The president also told the visiting FIFA president, who is in the country for the six-nation Aisha Buhari Invitational Football Tournament, that since 2017 his administration had adopted football as a national asset.
According to him, sport is being accorded the highest level of attention possible by the government to enable rapid development of abundant talents in the country.
‘‘I have also approved the unveiling of a committee to draw up a 10 year football development master plan for the country.
‘‘I expect that the recommendations of this committee will accelerate the development of football. It is my hope that it will further improve the fortunes of the game internationally.
On the Aisha Buhari Cup (ABC), with the theme “Playing for Good”, which is on-going in Lagos, the Nigerian leader said the tournament could not have come at a better time.
‘‘This Women’s football competition is a novel idea here and I am sure it will be exciting in its execution for our women folk and lovers of football.
‘‘It is also a confirmation of what we already know about our women,’’ he said.
The president thanked FIFA for making ABC, a ranking tournament, adding that he looks forward to more countries joining to participate in the future.
President Buhari, who described football as one of the greatest sources of unity in the country as well as in many parts of the world, said:
‘‘Our hearts beat as one anytime our teams are playing a football match. Our youth are always positively engaged when our national football teams are on assignment.
‘‘Without any doubts here, football is a major tool of national unity’’.
The Nigerian leader commended the enormous work done by the organisation in the development of football, using it as a tool for positive social change and to drive global unity.
He pledged support for the latest FIFA initiative, the FIFA Connect programme which aims to drive football development at the grassroots using technology, assuring football body’s top echelon of Nigeria’s active participation in the programme .
He also emphasised Nigeria’s huge pedigree in global and continental football.
According to the president, the country has achieved successes in many international and continental competitions while maintaining close, cordial and mutually beneficial relationship with FIFA.
‘‘Nigeria is one of the few nations of the world that has participated in all FIFA competitions, at all the different levels for both men and women.
‘‘These have opened doors of opportunities for a lot of our young boys and girls, men and women to have rewarding careers in the game,’’ he said.
In his remarks, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development Sunday Dare said Nigeria, as the leading black nation in the world, was central to all that FIFA is seeking to achieve in its football development plan.
‘‘We love football and we follow the game passionately,’’ he said.
Also speaking, Infantino renewed FIFA’s commitment to support the development of football in Nigeria, pledging to strengthen its partnership with the Nigeria Football Federation.
‘‘Nigeria is a big football playing country. We need Nigeria to lead the football movement in the world, together with Africa as a continent,’’ he said.
The FIFA president thanked President Buhari for supporting the development of the game, appealing to him to help FIFA amplify the message of football as a uniting force.
‘‘When football is played there are no divisions in a nation or continent. Football brings people together and to do that we need important countries like Nigeria,’’ he said. (NAN)
Mutual Benefits National Badminton Championship Winner Gets N5m Insurance Cover
Current National and African Badminton champion, Anuoluwapo Opeyori, has maintained his position as the winner of the men’s singles category of the 4th Mutual Benefits National Badminton Championship for 2023 on Saturday in Lagos.
Opeyori, representing Lagos State, was not only rewarded with N250,000 cash prize, but also received a personal accident insurance cover worth N5 million from Mutual Benefits Assurance Plc, one of the sponsors of the championship.
This insurance cover will provide protection for Opeyori in the event of death, permanent disability, and medical expenses.
The men’s singles category also saw Victor Ikechukwu, representing Rivers State, emerge as the first runner-up and received N200,000 cash prize.
The second and third runners-up in this category were awarded N150,000 cash prizes each.
In the women’s singles category, Ruth Ebere, representing Edo State, emerged as the winner and received N250,000 cash prize.
Deborah Ukeh, also from Edo State, secured the second position and was awarded N200,000.
Moving on to the men’s doubles, Opeyori, partnered with Daniel Christopher of Lagos State, emerged as the winners and received N150,000 cash prize each.
Victor Ikechukwu and Emmanuel Joseph of Rivers State came in second place in this category and received N100,000 each.
In the women’s doubles category, Grace Gabriel and Ramatu Yakubu, representing the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), emerged as the winners and received N150,000 each.
Zainab Alebi and Sofiat Obanisola of Rivers State secured the second position and were awarded N100,000 respectively.
Other winners of the mixed double also got cash prizes varying from N150,000 for the winner, N100,000 for the first runner-up, while the two third runners-up received N75,000.
Dr Akin Ogunbiyi, Group Chairman, Mutual Benefits, expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to sponsor the tournament and announced the one-year personal accident insurance cover for Opeyori.
Ogunbiyi, represented by Mr Joseph Oladokun, Executive Director, Technical operations, Mutual Benefits Assurance, said that the insurance would provide coverage for death, permanent disability, and medical expenses up to N5 million.
He stated that the journey of the insurance company from the edition of the championships in 2017 had been remarkable.
According to the chairman, the insurer is honoured to provide the platform for young, talented Nigerians to showcase their skills, mentorship, grow and set stage for future champions.
“The courts have borne witness to exceptional serves, powerful smashes, agile footwork and a display of passion and dedication from the players.
“We have witnessed remarkable victories, heart-wrenching defeats and moments of sheer magic that will be etched in our memories forever,” he said.
Ogunbiyi said the commitment is an integral part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities as it strive to contribute to the growth and development of the Nigerian Youth and development of sports at different levels.
Ogunbiyi appreciated the leadership of BFN for their dedication to organise the championships and to train and mentor the young athletes.
A lawyer, Mr Francis Orbih, the President of the Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN), commended Mutual Benefits for its steadfast support of badminton in Nigeria.
He commended the players for their dedication, resilience, and unwavering support for the sport, noting that they demonstrated the true spirit of badminton through sportsmanship, fair play, and a pursuit of excellence.
He said that the 4th Mutual Benefits National Badminton Championship marks a remarkable resurgence of the sport in Nigeria and a revival, long awaited since the last championship in 2019.
“Mutual Benefits commitment to sports aligns with our vision of promoting badminton as a unifying force, fostering a culture of healthy competition, and a inspiring future generations of athletes,” he said.
Responding, Opeyori expressed his gratitude to Mutual Benefits for sponsoring the tournament, especially considering the current economic challenges in the country.
He acknowledged the company’s support to badminton sports and its players.
He advised other companies and well-meaning Nigerians to also support the tournament to encourage the players and develop badminton as a viable sport.
Reports says that the 4th Mutual Benefits National Badminton Championship, which started on Nov. 29, has no fewer than 160 skilled Athletes from 27 States across the country.
The athletes re competing in various categories for the coveted fourth championship titles, ranking points in the singles, doubles and mixed doubles competitions. (NAN
Mutual Benefits National Badminton Championship Kicks off in Lagos
Over 160 players from twenty seven States will jostle for honour at the fourth edition of the Mutual Benefits National Badminton Championship which flags off today the 29th of November 2023 at the NIS Gym, National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
The Championship is coming back in its 4th edition after 3 years of absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 3rd and last edition was held in 2019.
Before the 3 years break, the Championship had become one of the biggest national badminton events in Nigeria.
Players will be playing for a total N5,340,000 prize money and ranking points to improve their national ranking with the finals and closing ceremony billed for Saturday the 2nd of December, 2023.
The National ranking will be a major criteria for inviting players to the national camp early January next year to select the National team for the two major continental events in the first quarter of next year.
These are the All Africa Senior Badminton Championship in Egypt in February and the All Africa Games scheduled for Ghana in March.
As the Competition serves off today, the players, administrators and technical officials are all excited with anticipation especially after a long draught of such outings, a statement from the Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN)said.
The President, Francis Orbih couldn’t hide his excitement and has promised to look at other possible meets to “keep the players calendar crowded”.
Super Eagles need Home Based Players, not Peseiro’s Sack – Ekpo
Ex-international, Friday Ekpo, says sacking Super Eagles Head Coach, José Peseiro, is not as crucial as adding fresh home based and foreign professionals to key departments of the team.
Ekpo said this in an interview on Tuesday in Lagos, against the backdrop of Super Eagles unimpressive performance in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.
Reports says that Super Eagles drew 1-1 in Uyo on matchday one against Lesotho, a team that has never qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations.
A few days later, the Super Eagles were held to another 1-1 draw against Zimbabwe in Rwanda to bag only two points from their first two games.
The Portuguese has been under immense criticism after guiding the three-time African champions to two disappointing results in November.
Ekpo, the Former Super Eagles midfielder, appealed to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) not to heed the call by football enthusiasts to sack the coach.
“I’m not calling for Jose’s head like most people are, sacking him will be counterproductive at this point in time. These results can be reversed in subsequent matches.
“My only concern is that we shouldn’t have only foreign based players in the team, because selecting his team for matches will be tough.
“No foreign based player would like to leave their clubs just for them to come and seat on the bench, we’ve done it in the past and it worked, we can do that again,” he said.
Peseiro is set to submit a 55-man provisional list ahead of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations on Dec.14.
Reports says that participating countries can name a maximum 27 players in their squad for the 2023 AFCON finals as against the usual 23. The final roaster is expected to be submitted by Jan. 3, 2024.
Ekpo, a member of the 1992 African Cup of Nation squad, says that the victory of Super Eagles at the 2013 AFCON was sealed by a home based player at the time, Sunday Mba.
“Sunday Mba was a Warrior Wolves of Asaba player. Late Stephen Keshi did that, and the result was glaring. Moreover, this is the only way we can truly develop our domestic league.
“We all want results but it’s important we pay attention to history and learn from it,” he said. (NAN)
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