At the end of the Nigerian Civil War in 1970, the unity of the country was seriously threatened. The then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, initiated the National Sports Festival in 1973 as a platform to bring together youths from all parts of the country to compete, using sports as a tool to achieve national healing after the brutal 30-month civil war.
He saw the sports festival as a rallying point for national unity and cultural integration. It was named the Unity Games.
The maiden edition of the NSF took place in 1973 at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos. For the first time after the civil war, athletes from all nooks and crannies of the country came together to felicitate and compete under a peaceful atmosphere.
The then Midwestern State, under the administration of sports-loving Military Governor, Brigadier Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia, won the inaugural edition, beating the host, Lagos, to emerge overall winner.
The sports festival made a great impact on national integration. The unity, long dreamed about by General Gowon, started manifesting as athletes discovered during the festival formed the bedrock of the country’s national teams. A majority of them represented the country in the third All Africa Games held in Algeria.
The second edition also took place in Lagos in 1975, and was won by the then Midwestern State. The festival was moved to Kaduna in 1977, and Bendel State, which came into being following the creation of States in 1976 by the Murtala Mohammed’s administration, topped the medals table.
The city of Ibadan, Oyo State, hosted the 1979 edition tagged ‘Oluyole ’79, and Bendel State also finished top on the medals table. In 1981, Benin City, the capital of the then Bendel State hosted the NSF for the first time, and Bendel State finished top of the medals table.
After Bendel ’81 edition, the NSF suffered its first postponement in 1983 due to what sports ministry officials described then as “unclear political atmosphere” after a military coup.
The National Sports Festival did not hold in 1983 as scheduled, and there was also no festival in 1984. The city of Ilorin, Kwara State, hosted the 1985 edition.
At Kwara ’85, the junior and intermediate cadres (football) were not allowed to take part in the National Sports Festival after they formed the Golden Eaglets to win the maiden FI FA Kodak U-16 Tournament in China.
The NSF did not hold as scheduled in 1987. Rather, it took place in 1988 in Port Harcourt. Bendel State finished top of the medals table at Rivers ’88.
To bridge the gap, Lagos State offered to host the NSF the following year (1989), and finished top of the medals table. The next edition of the NSF took place in Bauchi in 1991, and was nearly marred by religious violence, which broke out a few days after it commenced. In the end, Zone 2, which comprises of Bendel, Ondo and Rivers State finished top of the medals table.
After Bauchi ’91, the National Sports Festival suffered one of its worst postponements. It did not hold in 1993, 94 and 95. Makurdi, the capital of Benue State, hosted the NSF in 1996. By this time, Bendel State had been divided into Edo and Delta States, following the creation of more states by the General Ibrahim Babangida’s administration in August 1991. Lagos State finished on top of the medals table at Makurdi ’96.
There was stability, as the NSF returned to its biannual arrangement. Owerri, the capital of Imo State hosted the 1998 edition, and was won by Lagos State. Nigeria returned to democratic government in 1999, and a year later, the NSF returned to Bauchi State.
Team Delta, under the Chief James Ibori’s administration finished on top of the medals table at Bauchi 2000 with Chief Solomon Ogba as Commissioner for Sports.
Benin City hosted the NSF for the second time in 2002, with Team Edo finishing top of the medals table. The festival moved to Abuja in 2004, which Team Delta won. Delta successfully defended the NSF title two years later at Gateway 2006, Ogun State.
Thereafter, the festival suffered a one-year postponement solicited for by Kaduna State government to enable it complete its facilities. Instead of hosting the event in 2008, the KADA Games was held in 2009.
Team Delta, under the Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan’s administration topped the medals table. Rivers State hosted the National Sports Festival for the second time in 2011. Tagged The Garden City Games, Team Rivers finished on top of the medals table.
Lagos State played host to the NSF in 2012 (just one year interval) to honour the agreement it entered with the Sports Ministry during the bidding process in Kaduna, and Team Delta finished top of the medals table.
Cross River State won the bid to host the 2014 edition of the NSF. But Nigerian youths waited until 2018 for the festival to hold in Abuja.
‘The Centenary Games,’ which was meant to commemorate Nigeria’s 100 years, could not see the light of the day in Calabar.
Abuja 2018 saw Team Delta, under the administration of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, finishing on top of the medals table with Chief Tonobok Okowa as Chairman of the Sports Commission.
Benin City, Edo State, could have hosted the NSF for the third time in 2020, but the outbreak of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic forced the Games to be moved to 2021. And to prove that the victory at Abuja 2018 was not a flunk, Team Delta finished top of the medals table.
The stage is set for Delta 2022, and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa says he would host a festival that all athletes and officials will be proud of.
By: Gowon Akpodonor
Napoli To Offer Osimhen €7m Yearly Contract
Napoli is prepared to break their wage structure to keep Victor Osimhen at the club and offer him a much bigger salary than he earns now, Tidesports source reports.
The Nigerian striker is having a great season at Napoli and has scored 14 times in 19 appearances in all competitions in the ongoing campaign.
He has been heavily linked with a move away from the Serie A giants next season, with multiple clubs across Europe believed to be interested in him.
According to reports in Italy, as reported by AreaNapoli, it has been claimed that Napoli are ready to break their wage structure to keep the striker beyond next summer.
They have a maximum salary limit of €3.5m per year for any player, but Napoli are prepared to make an exception for Osimhen.
The club are set to meet the forward’s representatives and offer him a contract worth up to €7m per season and Napoli believe it could help them convince Osimhen to stay on for at least one more season.
Although it is a huge contract offer by Serie A standards, Manchester United, who are keen to sign the Nigeria international, are in a position to offer him a lot more than that and Osimhen will surely want to test himself in the Premier League.
However, if he wants to leave, Napoli are likely to accept offers in the region of €120m for him next summer and with the remarkable form he is showing this season, there will be no shortage of suitors once the transfer window opens.
It is no surprise that the biggest clubs in Europe are eyeing the striker, as he is powerful, has pace and is a superb finisher with a career record of 80 goals in 171 outings, which is only expected to keep rising as he is still only 24.
Delta 2022: Bayelsa Offers Automatic Employment To Medallists
Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has announced a reward package for athletes that represented the state at the 2022 National Sports Festival held at Asaba, Delta State.
Bayelsa placed a historic second behind Delta, surpassing its earlier best position of third recorded at the 2020 festival hosted by Edo State in 2022.
Governor Diri, who received the state’s contingent on Wednesday inside the Executive Council Chambers of the Government House, Yenagoa, recalled that Bayelsa won 109 gold, 104 silver and 87 bronze medals.
This was contained in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, and made available to Tidesports source , the governor announced N1 million each to individual gold medallists and N750, 000 each for team gold.
He also rewarded individual silver medallists with N500, 000 and N300, 000 went to team silver medallists, while individual bronze medallists got N300, 000 and N150, 000 for each team bronze medallist.
Coaches and secretaries of gold medal teams got N500, 000 each, while their assistants got N300, 000 each. Those in silver category got N300, 000 each and their assistants N200, 000.
The governor also rewarded non-medallists with N50, 000 each.
He also announced automatic employment for those yet to be employed in the state sports council and directed the Ministry of Youth and Sports to work out the modalities.
We’ll Turn The Table Around In Subsequent Games – Nasarawa Coach
Nasarawa United Chief Coach, Abubakar Arikya, has assured fans and people of the State that they will turn the table round in their subsequent games in spite of their unimpressive performances in recent times.
The Solid Miners, as they are fondly called, lost 3-0 to visiting Akwa United on Sunday at the ongoing abridged 2022/2023 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) Week three game, at Jos International Stadium, Plateau State.
Coach Arikya said this in his post match interview with sports journalists and made available to Tidesports through the club’s Media Officer, Eche Amos, shortly after his side lost to Akwa United.
According to him, he accepted the outcome of the game in good faith and hoped to turn around the situation for better in subsequent matches.
“It’s never our making to lose any game, however, we accept the outcome in good faith with the hope of turning around the situation for better in subsequent games.
“The boys (players) played very well in the first-half and we had a lot of chances but could not convert them.
“But the game changed towards the closing stage of the first half and the second half wasn’t good for us.
“In all, it’s a day we have to forget in a hurry and move on,” Coach Arikya said.
As it is, Nasarawa United has suffered three straight loss in NPFL, as they lost to Enyimba, Abia Warriors and Akwa United but the technical crew still believed that they will record winnings in future.
Nasarawa United will Saturday pay visit to Gombe United to play one of the week four games in NPFL scheduled to hold at different match venues in the country.
By: Tonye Orabere
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