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Yusuf Ali Urges Sustained Grassroots Talent Hunt

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A former Commonwealth Long Jump champion, Yusuf Alli, has advocated the need for a sustained grassroots sports development programme in the country, to nurture budding talents.

Ali told our correspondent yesterday in Lagos that the Athletics Federation of Nigeria’s (AFN) current drive to reposition athletics was a step in the right direction.

Ali was recently appointed as a Zonal Co-ordinator by the AFN, in its drive to harness the talents that abound in the country.

The former champion said it was necessary to go back to the drawing board, to scout for potential “world class talents’’, hence the appointment of co-ordinators to achieve the objective.

He said the only way to regenerate the country’s drive to greatness in the track and field discipline was to revert to secondary schools.

“If you look back to the early beginning of Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell, they featured in schools sports, likewise  when I went to the Moscow Olympic, I was still a student”.

“If we can get students to take more interest in athletics, we can produce world class talents in the mould of Bolt. Through such a gradual programme, the recurring incidence of age cheats in sports would be reduced to the barest minimum. We need to get them young.’’

Ali stressed the need for mentoring of athletes from an early stage, to enable them to take the course in their career growth and not deviate to other pursuits.

“We should enact a pyramidal structure of sort, whereby a distilling process is adopted to pick out the very best talents from the thousands invited for the various competitions.

“Nigeria has the same terrain and structure like Jamaica, so I see no reason why we cannot produce more world beaters like them,’’he added.

Ali commended the National Sports Commission (NSC) for its efforts to keep the country’s sports on its feet.

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WAFU Zone B Qualifier: Rivers Govt Throws Weight Behind Angels FC

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Rivers State Governor, NyesomWike, has placed a marching order to accord the necessary support needed to aid the Jewels of Rivers, Rivers Angels FC  qualify from  the  West African Union(WAFU) B and ultimately win the CAF Women’s Champions League Cup.
The Rivers State Commissioner for Sports, Boma Iyaye  disclosed this, Monday, in a press statement signed by the state government’s press officer, Daniel Nwankwoala.
The commissioner commended the team for its victory over Hasaacas Ladies of Ghana in the opening match of their group qualifier, played at the weekend.
He promised to give the necessary support needed, as ordered by the State Governor, to enable the team get the desired results, playing their CAF Women’s  qualifier and win the cup as well.
“The Governor has placed an order to ensure that the team lacks nothing needed,  to help boost their morale, help them perform optimally and aid victory, as they embarked on this maiden competition,”  Iyaye said.
Earlier, head coach of the team, Edwin Okon,  has expressed optimism that his team will perform even better, having prepared adequately for the competition.
“We will fight to the end, my girls will do even better job. I can assure you that, the(players) are  in high spirit and determined to win.
“I am glad that we don’t have injuries worries, so, we are set and ready to do Nigeria proud,” he added.
It would be recalled that the Port Harcourt, Nigeria representatives started  their campaign in the WAFU Zone B qualifier  with a 2-0 win against their Ghana opponents, Hasaacas Ladies on Saturday, to get closer to qualification for the semi-finals.

By: Nancy Briggs

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Sports Minister Hails Anyanacho,Offiong

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Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has described Elizabeth Anyanacho as a future star.
Anyanacho lost 12-7 to Turkey’s Nur Tatar in the Round of 16 of the women’s 67kg taekwondo event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Monday morning.
Dare, who watched the bout, congratulated the 22-year-old despite the defeat.
“You’ve done well against a world champion. Keep your focus. The world will soon rise to salute you in the near future,” Dare told Anyanacho.
Tidesports source reports that he was also on hand to encourage Edem Offiong, who lost 4-1 in the second round of women’s table tennis to the USA’s Lily Zhang.
“You exhibited strength and talent. Nigeria thank you for making the country proud at the Olympics,” Dare told Offiong.
The pair of Godwin Olofua and Anuoluwapo Opeyori also lost their second Group B match in the men’s doubles badminton event against Denmark’s Kim Astrup and Anders Rasmussen, while Dorcas Adesokan was beaten 2-0 by Spain’s Clara Azurmendi in the opening Group B match of the women’s badminton singles.

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We Won’t Give Up On Playing For Nigeria – Ogwumike Sisters

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Nneka Ogwumike, Chiney Ogwumike and Elizabeth Williams say they haven’t given up their dream of representing Nigeria in the future after they were denied the opportunity to play for the country women’s basketball team at the Tokyo Games.
The three WNBA stars, who all have American and Nigerian citizenship, would have strengthened D’Tigress squad at the Olympics, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled they were ineligible to represent Nigeria at the moment after having played for the United States.
“I still have a lot of pride and high hopes for the Nigerian team as it is composed now,” Nneka Ogwumike said.
“So, maybe this time around, I won’t be a part of it directly, but I certainly do hope that I can be in the future.”
“I think the fight has just begun,” Chiney Ogwumike said. “I cannot accept to being called a naturalised citizen, when I have full citizenship.
“People don’t know the extent to which my family, and myself in particular, ever since I was at Stanford, has been going back to Nigeria to help. So to have someone say that I am not Nigerian is not fair to my family or my heritage or myself. It just does not feel right at all.”
Williams, who plays for the Atlanta Dream said, “It’s really about the principle now. We’re still going to keep appealing and fighting because I think people need to understand there are a lot of us that have dual citizenship. Even if we grew up here, our households look very different than what people think, and that part of us is very real.

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