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Osinbajo lights Torch of Unity to herald 21st National Sports Festival



Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo lit the Torch of Unity on Tuesday in Abuja signaling the beginning of its movement for the 21st Edition of the National Sports Festival.

The festival is scheduled to hold in Asaba for Nov. 28 to Dec. 10.

Performing the exercise at an arena in the State House, Osinbajo said the Torch of Unity, which heralded the festival, symbolised peace and unity in Nigeria.

He said that the torch was also meant to create awareness about the festival amongst Nigerians and also the world at large.

The vice-president said the festival was a crucial activity in Nigeria’s sporting calendar as it had been the avenue to discover many outstanding talents that would go on to become world champions.

“Some of the great champions who we know today were actually discovered at various National Sports Festivals.

“They include the likes of Blessing Okagbare, a world medallist in the 200 meters Olympics and World Championship; and also the medallist in long jump at the Olympics.

“Chioma Ajunwa, notable for being the first Nigerian to win gold at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and the first Black woman to win an Olympic Gold in any field event.

“Of course, you also have Olusoji Fasugba who was the African record holder and gold medallist in the 100 meters event with the time of 9.85seconds.

“This was until Akanni Simbine beat that time in 2021 with a time of 9.84seconds; then, Lucy Ejike, a gold medallist and world record holder at the Sydney 2000 Paralympics through to 2021 in Tokyo.

“And Enifiok Udo Ubong, the only Nigerian to win two bronze medals in the 4 x 400 meters relay and also silver medal in long jump.

“Of course, the now legendary Toby Amusan, OON, the current World, Commonwealth, African  Champion in the 100 meters hurdles; she is also the recorder holder in these three competitions,’’ Osinbajo added.

According to him, stakeholders are looking forward to even more successful hurl of great stars at 21st National Sports Festival.

He said that the nation was still basking in the euphoria of the outstanding performance of Team Nigeria at the just-concluded Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK.

“We are committed to supporting the sports sector to sustain this height – the height that has already been attained.

“We realise that the overall goal of using sports as a tool for meaningfully engaging our young and also for uniting our country is a very sound objective.

“It is one that we intend to continue to pursue on a regular and daily basis,’’ the vice-president stressed.

Osinbajo commended the Minster of Sports and Youth Development, Mr Sunday Dare and the host Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa, for their efforts at bringing the festival to fruition.

Earlier in his remarks, Dare said that the event was very significant in the history of sports development in Nigeria.

Dare recalled that the vice-president, at the same arena, received the Queen’s baton to signal Nigeria’s participation at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

“As we light the Torch of Unity at this venue for what is the flagship sports event in Nigeria, we refer to it as the Nigerian Olympics.

“It is from the sports festival that we hope to select our best and brightest to form Team Nigeria for the France 2024 Olympics.

“The torch is the Torch of Unity and over the years, it has united our country’s men and women.

Thirty-Six states and the FCT, 16,000 athletes, more than 28 different sports for age groups between 18 years and 25 years will participate at the National Sports festival.

“The torch is expected to move around the states and the FCT arriving in Asaba to be received by the governor,’’ he said.

The minister thanked the Federal Government for identifying with the festival and providing the support and the resources necessary over the years.

In his goodwill message, Gov. Okowa thanked the Federal Government, particularly the sports ministry for accepting that Delta should host the 21st National Sports Festival.

He said that the state was ready and was working very hard to ensure it provided the best in terms of organisation.

“We are also looking forward very keenly to other states competing with themselves excluding Delta.

“This is because we know we have already won, even ahead of time; but we will like to see other states competing with us,’’ he said.

The symbolic carrying of the torch was led by Mary Onyali, a former Nigerian sprinter.

The torch was afterwards handed over to the vice-president who returned it to the Minister of Sports.

A ceremonial mascot was also handed over to the vice-president by Gov. Okowa.

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Nasarawa Commissioner Applauds NPL’s Transparent Draw Ceremony




…picks first match pairing

Nasarawa state Commissioner for yourh and sports Development, Hon. Jafaru Ango praises the Nigeria Premier League’s transparent draw process and sets high expectations for the league’s elevated standards in the upcoming season.

Jafaru Ango, on Tuesday, attended the draw ceremony for the commencement of the 2023/24 Nigeria Premier Football League Season held at the Sandralia Hotel, Jabi, Abuja.

Jafaru who was invited by the Board of the Nigeria Premier League headed by Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye, performed the task of picking one of the pots containing Abia Warriors FC of Umuahia who would later be paired against Niger Tornadoes FC in their opening league match.

The 2023/24 Nigeria Premier League will kick-off on Saturday, 9th September, 2023.

Speaking to the Media shortly after the draw ceremony, the Commissioner commended the League Organizers for ensuring a transparent process, and hoped that the League standard would surpass previous seasons.

He thanked Chairman of the NPL Board, Gbenga Elegbeleye, for giving him the opportunity to participate in the draw ceremony.

Responding to questions surrounding the return of Nasarawa United Football Club to the elite domestic football league, Jafaru expressed optimism that the team would take its rightful place in the top-flight in no distant time.

“It’s unfortunate that the team was relegated. But we are doing everything possible to ensure that by this time next year, we should be back in the League.

“We will rejig the team, set the necessary modalities in place to achieve this task. It may be herculean, but not insurmountable.”

On the refurbishing of the Lafia City Stadium, the Commissioner assured that Government is leaving nothing to chance to ensure the facility wears a new look.

He also assured that the Nasarawa State Contingent for the forthcoming National Youth Games in Asaba, Delta State, would do the State proud as Government continues to deploy various mechanisms to inspire the athletes to podium appearance, revealing that his slogan for the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is “Creativity and Excellence.”

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Bendel Insurance FC : Edo Govt, Sterling Bank Meet Over Sponsorship



Ahead of the 2023/24 football season, Edo State Govt has opened discussions with management of Sterling Bank PLC over the need to up their game in terms of corporate sponsorship of Bendel lnsurance FC.

The Edo State team led by the Deputy Governor Rt Hon Comrade Philip Shaibu included chairman of Edo State Sports Commission, Alhaji Yusuf Ali, Permanent Secretary of the Commission, Mrs Sabina Chikere and the Chief of Staff, Office of the Deputy Governor, Kingsley Ehigiamusor Esq.

Sterling Bank management was led by the M,D/ CEO of the bank, Abubakar Suleiman.

The meeting which lasted for about an hour was hosted by the Deputy Governor in his office at the Government House, Benin while the Sterling Bank team joined virtually.

At the end of the meeting, a 9-man committee was set up with representatives of both parties to look at the need to up the sponsorship fee, given the fact that Bendel Insurance FC has booked a continental ticked to represent Nigeria in the CAF Championship which kicks off in August.

The club lifted the FA Cup played in Asaba, June 19, 2023 when it defeated Enugu Rangers 1-0.

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Bendel Insurance Win 2023 FA Cup, Thrash Enugu Rangers One Nil..



Bendel Insurance FC of Benin has won the 2023 Football Association (FA) Challenge Cup.

The Benin Arsenals defeated old-time rivals, Enugu Rangers one nil to clinch the FA Cup at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, yesterday

The goal was scored almost at stoppage time of the added four minutes in the first half of the match.

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