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Table-Tennis: Nigeria Sweeps Stakes In Togo

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Nigeria emerged winners of the male and female single at the just-concluded 11th International Blaise Sogo Table Tennis Championships in the Republic of Benin between December 19 and  20.
Kazeem Makanjuola and Rashidat Ogundele, won the male and female singles titles respectively.
Makanjuola told newsmen in Lagos yesterday on arrival that participating in the Maiden Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) Presidents Cup contributed to his success at the championships.
“I was still in top form after participating in the NTTF President’s Cup just before we left for the championships in the Republic of Benin.
“The zeal at the President’s Cup was what I carried on with and believe me my opponents too fought so hard to win.
“My performance can be attributed to hard work and the constant competitions I engaged in within the year,” he said.
Rashidat Ogundele said that championship was highly competitive.
“The championships was tough and keenly contested by all the players; top players from various African countries took part in the competition.
“The championships have changed from what it used to be and we now have many young players across the continent taking part in the tournament,” she said.
The championships are an annual tournament for African players.
At the 2013 edition which held from December 20 to  21,, Nigeria reportedly clinched four gold and a silver medal and this year it won two gold, two silver and one bronze medals.
Meanwhile, NTTF, the Technical Director,of NTTF Anderson Bankole has lauded the country’s representatives at the tournament, stressing that their triumph was a sign of greater things to come in 2015.
“It is good to know that the young ones are waking up and doing so well.
“We still have a lot to do; we will ensure that we address their weakness, we will not leave anything out in ensuring that our players do well in international competitions,” he said.
The technical director hoped that the players would strive to maintain the country’s top position in the continent.
“We will strive not just to be Number One in Africa but in the World.
“With God on our side, and commitment of the players, we will achieve it,” he said.
Nosiru Bello, the Head Coach of NTTF, also expressed satisfaction with the performance of the players.
He said that they played well and listened to instructions.
“They put in their best; I must say I am satisfied with their performance.
“We still have a lot to do on the players and I know they will keep getting better,” he said.

A Flying Eagle (11) in action during the qualifiers for the 2015 African Youth Championship (AYC)

A Flying Eagle (11) in action during the qualifiers for the 2015 African Youth Championship (AYC)

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2021/2022 NPFL Season  Starts, Dec 17

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The 2021/22 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season  is expected to  kick off on December 17th across 10 centres.
Defending champions, Akwa United, will start their title defence  at home in a Match Day 1 fixture against Kano Pillar at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo
Elsewhere,  Gombe United hosts Shooting Stars Sports Club to the Pantami stadium in Gombe in both teams’ first game of their returned season to the top flight.
The Pride of Benue, Lobi Stars, will host Rivers United at the Aper Aku Stadium, Makurdi with the club’s Manager, Eddy Dombraye, leading his side against his state for the first time in many years.
The first oriental derby match of the new season is among the opening fixtures with Enyimba FC playing host to their arch-rivals Abia Warriors in Aba, while Enugu Rangers travel to Katsina to face the Changi boys, Katsina United.
Niger Tornadoes will welcome Plateau United at their temporary home ground in Kaduna while there will be a reunion, sort of in Akure when Sunshine Stars face their former manager, Kabiru Dogo and Fuad Ekelojuoti who are now with Wikki Tourists at the Ondo Sports Complex, Akure.
Another matchday one fixture will see Kwara United host Dakkada in Ilorin. Kwara United almost won the league title last season, before Akwa United secured the title with seven points gap, while the Olukoya boys, MFM FC, will host regional rivals, Remo Stars, at the Agege Stadium.
The Solid Miners, Nasarawa United will travel to Owerri to face Heartland in another opening day tie.

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Delta Principals Cup: Sponsor Splashes Goodies On Finalists

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The sponsor of the on-going Delta State Principals’ Cup football competition, Zenith Bank, has promised that loads of goodies will be given to the finalists of the annual event.
The competition,  now in its 5th edition, is a developmental football competition organised for all secondary schools in the state.
Zenith Bank’s Group Managing Director, Ebenezer Onyeagwu,  said that the last four teams will be rewarded with various ranges of gift items as part of the final day activities.
“We are very committed to developmental pro-grammes in various ways. For sports, we believe in our catch them young initiatives, of which the Delta Principals’ Cup is one of them.
“I congratulate all the finalists for the 2021 event and wish to show that they are all winners, all of them will go home with attractive gift items on final day next week,” Onyeagwu said.
Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, will host the final match between Osadenis Mixed Secondary School and  School of Com-merce  on November 30.
Alaka Grammar School, Ozoro and Ovwor Mixed Secondary School will clash in the Third Place match billed to be the curtain raiser before the final match involving the defending champions, School of Commerce and Osadenis Mixed School.

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US-Based Okorie Plans Maiden South-East Sports Festival

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United States-based Nigerian former athlete, Victor Okorie, is planning to stage a maiden Southeast Sports Festival in 2022 to prepare athletes in the region for the national sports festival billed to hold in Asaba, Delta State.
Okorie, who is the Performance Director of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), said he would meet with governors and some stakeholders in the region soon, as part of his arrangements for the event.
Before his emergence as the Southeast zonal representative on the AFN board during the elective congress held in Abuja on June 14, Okorie had sponsored a competition for track and field athletes through his pet project, the South East Sports Foundation.
The competition, which held in Enugu, saw athletes from Abia, Anambra, Imo, Enugu and Ebonyi compete for prizes in sprint events, throw and jump.
The foundation also plans to organise competitions for the physically challenged athletes in the zone in line with Okorie’s view of taking physically challenged athletes in Southeast away from the streets, as well as integrate athletes in volleyball, handball, wrestling, and other sports on the same level with their foreign-based counterparts.
Speaking with newsmen, from his base in Tennessee, USA, Wednesday, Okorie, who won a silver medal for Nigeria at COJA 2003 All Africa Games in Abuja, said that the maiden Southeast Sports Festival would give the states chance to raise formidable squad for Asaba 2022.
“Sports are one major avenue governors in the southeast states can use to empower youths in the region,” Okorie said.
“I will meet with them and other stakeholders soon, on how we will stage a successful Southeast Sports Festival, which will serve as selection ground ahead of Asaba 2022 National Sports Festival. There is the need to re-awake sports campaign in the Southeast zone. Maybe, the next host of the national sSports festival will come from the Southeast after Asaba 2022,” he added.

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