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Sports Minister Pledges Support For Tennis Youngsters

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Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, has promised to put the Yakubu sisters, Oiza and Ohunene, and Marylove Edwards on the ministry’s sponsorship list  and also reach out to the governors of Oyo and Ekiti states to send the two most outstanding junior tennis talents in the country, Ganiyu Mubarak (Oyo) and Seun Ogunsakin (Ekiti) to tennis academies abroad.
Dare stated this after watching the junior players wow the crowd at the maiden Sapetro Futures Tennis Championship at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan.
 Tidesports source reports that Edwards, 16, and Oiza, 16, are already ranked No.2 and No.5 in the seniors, and have been precluded from playing in the ITA Junior Tennis Circuit.
Dare, who watched Ohunene, 13, overcome the spirited challenge from 14-year-old Success Ogunjobi to win the Girls 16s event 9-2, commended the partnership between the sponsors Sapetro and the International Tennis Academy adding, “This sponsorship, if it continues, will have tremendous impact on the development of tennis in Nigeria.”
The minister’s wish was immediately granted by the Vice Chairman of Sapetro, Senator Daisy Danjuma, represented by the company’s General Manager, Finance, Amos Garga.
Also at the event was former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Odein Ajumogobia.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the matches,” Ajumogobia said. “I’m amazed at the skill level of these junior players. If we can find a way to send the best 10 to academies abroad, Nigeria will make significant impact in the tennis world in the near future.”
Seun Ogunsakin had turned his match against Damilare Awe from Oyo State in the Boys 14s into an exhibition of his prodigious talent as he completely overran his  opponent 9-0, while Mubarak, 14, promoted to play the 16s, met the expectation of the organisers by beating his older opponent Basit Ajao from Lagos 9-6.
In the other finals, Khadijat Mohammed (Abuja) beat Mary Iorlumun (Benue) 9-1 to win the Girls 14s; Ndidi Osaji (Lagos) defeated Vanessa Inyang (Lagos) 9-7 in the Girls 12s. Onyekachi Ogumjiofor (Oyo) triumphed over Seyi Ogunsakin (Ekiti) 9-3 in the Boys 12s and Murewa Egbeyemi (Lagos) continued his domination of an emerging rival with Malcolm Osaji (Lagos) winning 9-4 in the Boys 10s event.
The Sapetro Futures Championship is now part of the ITA Junior Tennis Circuit, which provides the platform for juniors from all over the nation to showcase their talents.

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Ghana Legend Names Okocha Africa’s Best

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Ghana star, Mohammed Kudus has named Nigerian legend Austin ‘Jay-Jay’ Okocha as his greatest African footballer of all time, drawing parallels between Okocha’s style of play and his own.
Kudus, currently plying his trade with West Ham United, praised Okocha for his exceptional skills and entertainment value on the pitch.
Okocha’s illustrious career includes numerous achievements such as winning the Goal of the Year award in Germany in 1993, multiple Nigerian Footballer of the Year titles, and being named the BBC African Footballer of the Year twice.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Kudus expressed his admiration for Okocha, emphasising the lasting impact of his creative flair and ability to entertain fans. He highlighted Okocha’s unique style of play as a source of inspiration for him as a young footballer.
”I will say Jay Jay Okocha. I will say explaining from my lens how I see creative players and entertain. That can never be washed away and the fans can never forget that,” Kudus told our source.
Despite joining West Ham United last summer, Kudus has quickly established himself as a crucial player for David Moyes’ side.
With stellar performances throughout the season, Kudus has garnered attention for his impressive contributions on the pitch. In his debut season, the midfielder has netted an impressive 13 goals in 38 appearances, solidifying his role as a key player for the club.

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HFN Sets Deadline For League Registration  

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The Handball Federation of Nigeria (HFN) have called on teams that will participate in the Ardova Handball Premier League 2024 to complete all documentary registration on or before May 4, 2024.
The Ardova Handball Premier League 2024 kick off with phase 1 to hold in Benin City, Edo State from May 12th to the 25th , 2024 and the HFN said all teams must document all their registration regarding player registrations, loans and transfers as soon as the 4th of May 2024 according to a statement addressed the officials of the twenty two participating teams by the Secretary General of the Handball Federation of Nigeria (HFN) Mr. Almu Umar Lambu.
“A total of 25 players and 4 officials shall be registered for the Season as there shall be no more registration in the Second Phase and all participating clubs should note that documentary registration of players, transfers and loans shall be completed on or before 4th May, 2024.” Mr. Lambu said.
Mr. Lambu also revealed that the HFN will hold an anti-doping seminar for players and officials during the course of the first phase of the Ardova Handball Premier League 2024 in Benin City, Edo State.
“Also Clubs should note that there will be Anti-Doping Seminar during the league to be organised by the HFN Medical and Anti-Doping Commission” Mr. Lambu concludes.
The top tier Handball league which is the biggest handball event in Nigeria, was to begin on April 28 through to May 11, 2024 but has now being shifted by two weeks by the Handball Federation of Nigeria for effective preparation in tandem with the sponsor Ardova PLC and will now hold from May 12 to 25, 2024.
Teams are expected to arrive Benin City on May 12, 2024 while hostilities will then begin the next day, May 13 through to May 24, 2024. Departure is May 25, 2024.

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Athletics: Ofili, Nathaniel Qualify For Paris Olympics

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Favour Ofili and Ezekiel Nathaniel have booked their places to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Ofili won the women’s 200-meter event in day one of the Tom Jones Invitational on Friday, hosted by Florida at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville.
The Port Harcourt, Nigeria, native blazed out of the blocks and clocked an event-winning time and No. 4 time in the world of 22.33 seconds (+1.4 m/s).
She defeated Anavia Battle who came through in 22.56s and Ida Karstoft in a new National Record of 22.60s
Her time dips under the Paris 2024 Olympics’ standard of 22.57 seconds, punching her ticket to the Olympics in her first season after turning pro.
It is her fastest time outdoors since 2022 where she set the Nigerian National Record of 21.96s the same year.
Nathaniel on his part shattered the Nigerian 400m Record at the Tom Jones Invitational, running a brilliant 48.29s.
The feat has seen Nathaniel automatically qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics, surpassing the Olympic standard by almost half a second.
Chris Robinson of the United States won in a time of 47.95s ahead of Clement Ducos, who ran 48.26s.
Meanwhile, in the Men’s High Jump event, Nigeria’s Erhire Best won clearing a Season’s Best (SB) of 2.21m.
He defeated Riyon Rankin on countback, having needed just one attempt to clear the winning mark while Rankin took three tries. BJ Jennings was 3rd with 2.13m.

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