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NAN MD prioritizes sporting activities, physical fitness of staff

Buki Ponle

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The Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr Buki Ponle, has reiterated commitment to prioritise sporting activities to boost physical fitness of staff in the agency.

Ponle said this on Wednesday in Abuja when he played host to the NAN sports team led by Mr Adesanya Adetokumbo at the Boardroom of the agency.

He commended the team for their individual efforts to have emerged second at the 2021 Sport Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), FCT-Week football competition and the 2021 Chinese/FCT-NUJ Table Tennis Tournament, respectively.

“Today is another day of joy for us, because of the victories we have recorded; therefore, management congratulates the sports team for making NAN proud.

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“I know sports events took the pride of place in NAN, it is not that it has died but it is not where it should be.

“Otherwise nobody has capacity to beat NAN men and women in the field of play; I will ensure that we take sports back to where it belongs.

“I will ensure that we kit-up our Footballers, Table Tennis players and every other sports man and woman, to perform better and to win laurels for us.

“Henceforth, attention will be to overhaul the sporting facilities we have, so that when you use them and practice, we will be sure that you will get the best for us.

“No only that, whenever you are going for any competition, we will mobilise everybody in NAN, particularly those in Abuja or wherever such an event is happening, to support you wholeheartedly,” Ponle said.

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He said although there were perceived financial challenges, such was not peculiar to NAN alone; assuring that the management will ensure judicious use of minimal resources at its disposal to achieve targets.

He further promised to make the best of the available resources to provide the best facilities for staff of the agency.

“We will provide you the best we can, in terms of jerseys, football and all facilities that you are going to use, by God’s grace.

“The other important thing that we want to do is to constitute a committee to work on areas that will promote sporting events in NAN, you have laboured and you must be rewarded.

“It is based on the interest that you had, you progressed to this point, even when we did not support you, now that we are going to do that your productivity will definitely be enhanced.

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“We are giving you a handsome donation to support you and other things that are attached to sports in NAN; just for a start, we are giving you N300,000.

“We believe that by motivating you will get you to a higher pedestal and when next you are presenting trophies it will be in the first category,” the managing director said.

He further expressed appreciation to the team for the laurels they had won and reassured them of the management’s support at any point in time.

Earlier, Adetokumbo said that the visit was aimed at presenting the success stories by the team to the management and also to appeal for support for better sporting performance in 2022.

According to him, although we emerged first in the past Table Tennis tournament, we were unable to retain our position in the 2021 competition, therefore, the need for management support.

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“I want management to help us bring back sport activities; we have a volleyball court, table tennis board here, but they are not functional.

“The person in charge of the gym often complain that the gym facilities needed to be overhauled, we want management to look into it, to enable us to revive sports,” Adetokumbo said.

The high point of the event was the presentation of trophy and laurels by Adetokumbo to Ponle.

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Sports Identified As A Means For Youth Ascendance To Leadership Positions

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Top tournament logo, bottom kickoff by Dr Jeff-Nnamani

As YELI kicks off Football Tournament

▪️By Japheth Onyilofo

Vice President of Doctors Health Initiative and Medical Director/CEO of Novo Health Africa Ltd., Dorothy Jeff-Nnamani yesterday charged Nigeria youth to adequately gear up to assume leadership positions by taking active part in sporting activities.

Dr Jeff-Nnamani who made the call in an address at Community Secondary School field Umueze Awkunanaw, Nkanu West Local Government Area, Enugu State, at the kickoff of football tournament organized for the youth by her pet project, Youth Entrepreneurship and Leadership Initiative, YELI, expressed delight over the take off of the competition.

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Dr Jeff-Nnamani

The competition christened YELI Soccer Tournament is one of the avenues through which YELI, Dr. DorothyJeff-Nnamani’s initiative wants to give back to the society. “YELI is my pet-project that seeks to give back to society through youth entrepreneurship and leadership development”. She said.

Furthermore, she expressed confidence that the tournament would be a veritable instrument in training the youth to acquire leadership skills, “key characteristics, qualities, skills and attributes of a leader are inevitably found in sports. Effective sports men or women must have to display a higher degree of integrity and honesty”.

The philanthropist who developed interest in sports as a child hinted that it was her late father who ignited the fire in her. “As a child I watched my late father HRH Igwe, Chukwuma Nwankwo, Igwe Naezoruoha 1 of Obinagu Uwani Akpugo, who owned a football team called Olympic Football Club Enugu displaying the spirit of Sportmanship whenever his team won or lost a match”.

Her address reads in part, “I am greatly delighted to do the kick-off of YELI SOCCER TOURNAMENT, a flagship of Youth Entrepreneurship and Leadership Initiative (YELI). YELI is my pet-project that seeks to give back to society through youth entrepreneurship and leadership development…”

Continuing, she said “Looking back, As a child I watched my late father HRH Igwe Chukwuma Nwankwo Igwe Naezoruoha I of Obinagu Uwani Akpugo, who owned a sport (football) team called Olympic Football Club Enugu displaying the spirit of sportmanship when his team won or lost a match. I can still remember him telling the coaches and players about team building. He always put in his best business acumen and community leadership ability in scouting, discovering and training of football talents in the then Anambra State. One of the outstanding product of Olympic Football team is Christian Chukwu popularly known as Chairman Chukwu, whose exceptional leadership skills as the captain of our National Team earned Nigeria her first African Nations Cup trophy in 1980. Another significant person is Senator Ken Nnamani who was the senate president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the 4th Republic. Agree or disagree, as popular opinions have it, Sen. Ken Nnamani’s leadership ability was the death sentence to the 3rd term ambition of the then Obasanjo regime in the year 2005.

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“In the light of the above and in view of the myriad of leadership challenges facing the nation, YELI Soccer with the theme “Leadership through Sports” is an instrument we are using to train the youths on leadership skills. From available data, there is a strong correlation between leadership and sports.

“Let me reiterate, like the African celebrated writer Chinua Achebe, “The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely is a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of her leaders to rise to their responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of leadership”.

The key characteristics, qualities, skills and attributes of a leader are inevitably found in sports. Effective sport men or women must have to display a higher degree of integrity and honesty. They are invariably good communicators, confident in their own ability and exude a positive attitude. Unfortunately these qualities seem to be in short supply in our country.

“On this note, I want to urge the coaches and players in this tournament to look at the skills and qualities that helped you to build a team of your best players on merit, and apply them to the way you lead in your family, community, church, business and offices. That is the magic formula our country needs; you may be surprised at the result”, she concluded.

In the opening match of the tournament, Agbani Football Club walloped Akpawfu Football Club by un replied two goals.

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According to GMTNews reporter at the event, fixtures for other matches of the tournament as released by the Coordinator, Mr. Onyema Okoani, on September 20, 2022, Ihuokpara will lock horns with Ugbawka by 2:00 PM, while Obuoffia will take on Obe by 3:50 PM. Both matches take place at Central School Nara.

September 21, 2022,
Amaechi Idodo will slug it out with Amankanu at 2:00 PM. Amodu and Amagunze will trade tackles by 3:50 PM, the matches will be played at St. John’s Field Agbani.

Others will be played as follows: 22nd Sept.2022, Nomeh Vs Nkerefi by 2:00 PM;
Amurri Vs Mburubu by 3:50 PM both at Community Primary School, Isienu Amagunze.

On 23rd Sept. 2022, Ubahu squares up with Ozalla, as Nara battles Akegbe-Ugwu. Venue is Akpugo Boys’ Secondary School, Akpugo.

September 24, 2022, Oruku will play Umueze by 2:00pm, while it will be Owoh Vs Akpugo by 3:50pm @St. John’s Field Agbani. GMTNews

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Wike Presents 2021/2022 NPFL Trophy to Rivers United FC

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Gov Wike handing trophy to the captain

~Awards team members N1m each

Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has presented Rivers United Football Club with the 2021/2022 Nigeria Professional Football League trophy in Port Harcourt.

The governor made the presentation after the match day 38 clash between Rivers United Football Club and Gombe United at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium on Sunday.

Present at the presentation of the trophy were the Minister of Youths and Sports, Sunday Dare, President, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer League Management Company, Mallam Shehu Dikko and Davidson Owumi.

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It will be recalled that Rivers United were confirmed as winners of the 2021/22 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) on June 26 following Plateau United’s defeat by Akwa United.

Governor Wike had before the presentation of the trophy charged Rivers United, which will be representing the country at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League next season to work assiduously for the continental prize.

The trophy 🏆

The governor assured the Rivers United team and its coaching staff of the resolve of the State government to render every required support that will make the club excel during the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League next season.

Governor Wike disclosed that the State government will ensure that Rivers United players and its management are made comfortable in Port Harcourt.

He announced the reward of One Million Naira for each member of the team for defeating Gombe United. GMTNews

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Barbra Banda, a rising women’s football star, ruled not eligible by gender verification test

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By Christi Young

Barbra Banda, a rising star in women’s soccer and the captain of Zambia’s national team, was ruled ineligible for this summer’s Africa Cup of Nations by “gender verification” tests, according to Zambian soccer authorities and multiple reports.

Banda, a 22-year-old forward, scored two hat tricks at last summer’s Olympics and has excelled for her Chinese club, Shanghai Shengli. But she was mysteriously “unavailable” for Zambia’s women’s AFCON opener on Sunday due to what Zambia’s soccer federation (FAZ) called “medical reasons.”

Reports soon emerged that pre-tournament tests had revealed natural testosterone levels that exceeded limits set by governing bodies. Andrew Kamanga, the FAZ president, said in a statement Wednesday that the rules are those of the African soccer confederation, CAF, and in line with regulations developed by FIFA, the sport’s global governing body.

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CAF has distanced itself from Banda’s absence, and did not respond to news reporters’ request for comment. But Kamanga told BBC Sport Africa: “All the players had to undergo gender verification, a CAF requirement, and unfortunately she did not meet the criteria set by CAF.”

An official CAF document requires team physicians to attest that players have “been examined … to verify their gender,” and that the players “do not show any perceived deviation in secondary sex characteristics and are therefore presumed to be of female gender.”

In 2011, FIFA outlined similar “gender verification” regulations that required soccer federations to “actively investigate any perceived deviation in secondary sex characteristics” — which are physical traits typically associated with one sex but not directly involved in reproduction. Entire women’s national teams have been required to confirm, via team doctors and personal medical documents, that they are women. If necessary, the regulations state, a medical officer can call for “a physical examination performed by an independent expert.”

Rights advocates and scientists have criticized the requirements, calling them invasive and discriminatory — and devised primarily by Western men, based on traditional Western gender classifications, but applied across global populations.

“These policies and procedures violate the athlete’s privacy, and the tests themselves violate bodily autonomy,” Katrina Karkazis, an Amherst professor who has studied sexuality and testosterone, told reporters.

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They also completely exclude certain athletes like Banda, who, as a woman, likely would not be allowed to compete in men’s soccer either. “For FIFA men’s competitions, only men are eligible to play,” FIFA’s regulations state.

Those regulations — although currently under review, according to FIFA — have not been walked back. And CAF’s are similar, if not stricter, according to Zambian officials.

Last fall, the International Olympic Committee updated its guidance to discourage “invasive physical examinations” and “policies that require women to modify their hormone levels to compete.” Those, the IOC said, are “disrespectful” and “potentially harmful,” and “can have serious adverse impacts on their health.”

IOC officials said they’d heard directly from athletes who explained that old regulations, which mandated testosterone suppression, “generated severe harm to their health.” In one high-profile case, South African runner Caster Semenya recently told HBO that testosterone suppression drugs “made me sick, made me gain weight,” gave her panic attacks, and made her worry about heart attacks.

“It’s like stabbing yourself with a knife every day,” Semenya said. If she wanted to compete, she “had no choice” but to take the drugs. She instead gave them up and, by extension, gave up her Olympic dreams.

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According to Zambian officials, Banda and other players faced a similar choice. FAZ spokesman Sydney Mungala told ESPN that, in the aftermath of Banda’s breakout performance at the Olympics, she was told that her testosterone levels were above CAF’s threshold, and was offered medication to lower them. “Our medics engaged the players and they weren’t willing to go through with it,” Mungala said, citing the potential side effects.

BBC Sport Africa reported that Banda had taken medication, but still did not meet testosterone requirements.

Banda’s hormone levels have not affected her participation in professional leagues. She played for DUX Logroño in Spain as a teen, then moved to Shanghai. She is now reportedly the subject of interest from Real Madrid, among other top European clubs, and could make a move this summer.

“The players being denied an opportunity to showcase their skills on African soil have been free to play at FIFA- and International Olympic Committee-organized competitions that deploy a less stringent standard,” Kamanga, the FAZ president, said in his statement.

But Banda will not appear at the African continental championship for her national team. Nor will three lesser-known teammates who, according to reports, have also been deemed ineligible by the “gender verification” process. Their “opportunity,” Mungala told ESPN, “has been lost.”

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Banda has not commented publicly on the situation. While sidelined, she has been telling her teammates: “I am with you all the way.”

FIFA spokespeople did not immediately respond to questions about the governing body’s rules. FIFA has said it is “currently reviewing its gender eligibility regulations,” and consulting medical, legal, scientific, performance and human rights experts, but it has not commented on Banda’s case. (YS). GMTNews

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