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Kano Approves N97m For 47 Football Teams

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Kano State Executive Council has approved N97 million to support 47 football clubs playing in the National League, Commissioner for Information, Muhammed Garba, has said.

In a statement issued on Thursday in Kano, Garba said that the fund would help the amateur teams to participate in the 2021/2022 National League season scheduled to begin in November.

Meanwhile, the council also approved N55 million to procure Set Top Box for the successful digital switch over from analogue to digital television in the state.

Garba said that the switch over would be from October 30, when television users will require digital STB to receive TV signal.

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The commissioner said that the council had directed the Ministry for Local government and Chieftaincy Affairs to handle the issue.

He added that the ministry would supply the STB to all Primary Health Centres, Community Viewing Centres, Local Education Authorities, primary and basic schools and the 44 Local Government Councils in the state.

”7, 000 units of the STB will also be supplied to the 114 Ministries Departments and Agencies and 1,460 to Senior Secondary Schools in the state at the cost of N12, 500 per unit,” he added.

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The News Agency of Nigeria reports that in 2008, Nigeria signed the International Telecommunication Union Protocol to transit from analogue to digital television in line with global trend.

The pilot digitisation started in April 2016 in Jos and later Abuja, Kaduna, Enugu, Ilorin and Osogbo, while the second phase commenced in 2021, with Lagos and the remaining 30 states.

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D’Tigress receive ‘adopt a sport’ initiative’s N41.1 million largesse

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Nigeria’s national women basketball team, D’Tigress, have finally received $100,000 dollars (N41.1 million) as their share of the ‘Adopt-A-Sport initiative’ payment.

Newsmen recalled that the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development had raised $230,000 dollars (N 94.4 million) from four banks, to boost the preparations of the nation’s basketball teams (Men and Women) ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

A statement from the ministry on Friday said banking documents from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) confirmed that each of the 12 D’ Tigress players to the last Olympic Games in Tokyo had received $9,500 dollars (N 3.9 million) each.

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“A number of the players have acknowledged receipt of these monies, while many of them have not confirmed, but documents show effective transfers.

“Checks with the CBN also revealed that the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF)’s domiciliary account had been debited to reflect payments to the D’Tigress players, while the balance of the $130,000 dollars (N 53.4 million) remains for the men basketball players.

“The cheques also reveal that the processes for these payments commenced on October 14, about the same time the Ministry had assured the team that the fulfilment of the monetary obligations to them was in the works,” the statement said.

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Newsmen report that AfroBasket champions, the D’Tigress, had on October 13 protested over their unpaid wages and allowances.

They also expressed their grievances over what they described as ‘unfair treatment’ meted out to them by the Federal government and the NBBF, after their victory at the 2021 FIBA AfroBasket Women’s Championship in Cameroon.

Some members of the team, who took to the social media platform, Twitter, said their efforts in winning the championship for the fifth time were never appreciated.

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Angry D’Tigress Reject Part Payment Of Owed Bonuses And Allowances

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The last is yet to be heard on the showdown between the victorious D’Tigress and the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) as the aggrieved players have rejected any form of part payment of allowances and bonuses owed them.

Some of the D’Tigress spoke yesterday on Arise TV said they insist that the $230,000 (N95m) owed them since 2018 is paid in one tranche while sticking to their threat to boycott the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, if their demands are not met.

“We have made it clear that we will not be collecting partial payment. We are still very much open as a team to receive the Presidential reception at Aso Rock. The allowances owed since 2018 involves others who are not part of the team now. It won’t be fair for us to receive this year’s allowances and leave out 2018, 2019,” Forward Adaora Elonu said.

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Also speaking, Guard, Ezinne Kalu is urging the ministry to hold the NBBF former president, Musa Kida accountable.

“We want the ministry to hold Kida accountable to pay us. We are being taken advantage of. We are not getting the support we need from those owing us,” she said.

The team further denied being used as political pawns as stated by President of FIBA Africa zone 3 Col Sam Ahmedu (rtd) who was a member of the NBBF board.

“We can’t control what people will think. But no one is controlling our team. When we protested in the past, no one said we were approached but now the cameras and eyes are on us for coming out, there are now allegations of being approached. Our team has always been together as the money has accumulated so much,” power forward, Atonye Nyingifa said.

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Meanwhile, the House Committee on Sports led by its chairman, Hon. Olumide Osoba, has summoned former NBBF president, Engineer Musa Kida to appear before it within two weeks to answer questions concerning the money owed to the senior national basketball teams.

The summon came after the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, yesterday appeared before the committee to shed more light on allowances of the D’Tigress, payments made to the NBBF and the doping allegations against some Team Nigeria athletes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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How Age Cheats, Accommodation Crisis Almost Marred National Youth Games

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For five days, the attention of the sporting fraternity in Nigeria, especially lovers of grassroots sports, was on Kwara State, precisely the University of Ilorin where the 6th edition of the National Youth Games (NYG) was staged.   

Incidentally, the event which ended on Tuesday, October 19 will be the last to be hosted by the University after a six-year stretch which incidentally commenced during the tenure of former Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi who is also from Kwara State.

The last NYG provided the opportunity for the youthful athletes in secondary schools across the country to showcase their talents while announcing their arrival and ambition to rise to stardom as far as sports is concerned.

Over 4,000 youths and officials from 34 states of the country and Federal Capital Territory stormed the showpiece that celebrated the youths and provided the platform for them to exhibit their abundant talents to the world. 

At the games, some outstanding athletes were discovered who have been tipped to represent the country in Dakar in a few months from now. Already, they have been marked as future stars for the country.     

Among all the games competed for, it was glaring that the country and its citizens can use sports, especially in their formative years to find solutions to the security and economic issues presently plaguing the country.

It was also extremely fulfilling to see the athletes irrespective of their tribe, religion and ethnicity mingle as one in love, peace and harmony as originally envisaged by the country’s founding fathers. 

From all the approved sports which include athletics, aquatics, badminton, basketball, boxing, chess, cricket, cycling, dart, football, golf, gymnastics and handball among others, it was a delight to see the “real youths” take the stage by storm. 

It was the same in others like hockey, judo, karate, para-athletics, para-table tennis, scrabble, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, squash, trado sports, ayo, volleyball, weightlifting, wrestling and wush-Kungfu.

While the Games heralded future champions, it was, however, blighted by allegations of cheating, use of mercenaries and lack of proper planning which compelled organisers to shift the games for about two days from the original day it was scheduled to start.

The widespread cheating that was noticed during the games ran a sad commentary of the win at all cost syndrome that has stunted the growth of grassroots sports in the county.

According to some of the officials, due to the late commencement of the Games which was chiefly because of lack of proper preparation, over 2,000 athletes were accommodated at Kwara State Polytechnic instead of the University of Ilorin.

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Because of the late commencement and accommodation problems, some of the participants said they were forced to sleep in their cars inside car parks in order to participate.

“About 80 per cent of athletes were over-aged and most of the administrators and coaches complained. They had to retake the screening exercise on Friday after it was earlier done on Thursday. This was to allow for some athletes who were earlier disqualified to participate. This was one of the major problems that blighted the games,” said an official.

And according to one of the female athletes in taekwondo, Maryam from Kwara State, some of those she competed against were far above her category and age. “That was not what most of us prepared for and it was widespread in most of the games,” she added.  

Although the Acting Director, Grassroots Sports Development at the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Alhaji Bode Durotoye, insisted that athletes must be U-15 years old, it was one of the very sad aspects of the games.

“Athletes need to be U-15 years of age, and not 15 years plus. The screening committee has done a thorough job, but nevertheless, the process continues till the final day, as any athlete detected to be above age 15 will be withdrawn, and the coach and state sanctioned,” he said. Unfortunately, that was not to be as there were allegations of age falsifications which held up competitions at some of the event centres.

In spite of the flagrant abuses of the rules and regulations guiding the Games, no adequate punitive measures were taken against offenders. Even the fine of N2.5m each for Enugu and Gombe State was for their failure to attend the Games.

The Executive Chairman, Lagos State Sports Commission, Mr Shola Aiyepeku, said the organisers must make available, definite screening criteria, before any Youth Games, adding that the screening process for the Games was one of its lowest points.

The Minister for Youths and Sports Development, Chief Sunday Dare, who described the performance of the athletes as the sign of better things to come in the Nigeria sports sector, warned against age cheats. The Ministry, he noted, will henceforth institute scientific methods to check such occurrences in the forthcoming Games. 

He said the Ministry will commence the use of MRI technology to ensure that age cheating was curbed while stressing that any athlete caught as an age cheat in subsequent editions will be handed bans while states involved will be sanctioned.

However, for the 2021 edition, the Minister’s warning was like medicine after death because the Games had come and gone despite cases of age cheating and the use of mercenaries.

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Chief Dare, while thanking the states for their sustained investment in sports called on the states not to relent as their investments have continued to pay off with most of the athletes discovered at the Games in the past becoming the mainstay of Nigeria representatives in international events.

The Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin, Professor Age Abdulkareem represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Mikhail Buhari thanked the Federal Government for the opportunity to host the rest of Nigeria saying they are willing to continue hosting the Games as it has helped in improving the sporting facilities in the institution.

Professor Abdulkareem, however, appealed to the Minister of Youth and Sports Development to fulfil its promise of building an Olympic size swimming pool in the institution among other facilities saying the institution had become the home of sports among its peers.

At the end of the games, Delta State emerged champions with 114 medals, Lagos State came second with 72 medals (19 gold, 25 silver, 28 bronze),  Edo placed third with 40 medals (18 gold, 10 silver, 12 bronze), while Bayelsa ended in fourth place with 46 medals (16 gold, 14 silver, 16 bronze).

To finish in the top 10, Rivers State won 33 medals (11 gold, 8 silver, 14 bronze) to finish fifth, host Kwara State came sixth with 32 medals (10 gold, 10 silver, 12 bronze), FCT seventh with 36 medals (10 gold, 9 silver, 7 bronze), Ogun eighth with 45 medals (8 gold, 13 silver, 24 bronze), Ondo placed ninth with 30 medals (7 gold, 7 silver, 16 bronze) while Oyo finished tenth with 31 medals (6 gold, 6 silver, 19 bronze).

Despite the shortcomings which nearly overshadowed the brighter side of things, some immensely talented athletes were unearthed. Some of the outstanding athletes discovered were 9-year-old Gift Torhile from FCT and 10-year-old Wilson Bright from Delta.

Also discovered were outstanding gymnasts like Obiefuna Munachi, the 13-year-old from FCT and Mustapha Oriyomi, another 13-year-old from Delta. Then the amazing talents in weightlifting like Florence Olarinoye from Lagos, Victory Okundia from Edo and Marvelous Chidirim from FCT and the special athlete with hearing impairment, Akinwowon Oladeji, who won the 100m, 200m and 400m in athletics for Team Lagos.

These twinkle twinkle little stars all offered a silver lining for the Games that were characterized by age falsifications and the use of mercenaries.

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