Tokyo Olympics: Reps To Summon Sports Minister Over Doping Crisis

A file photo of the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare.

 

The House of Representatives on Wednesday opened a probe into the disqualification of Nigerian athletes at the 2020 Olympics over alleged doping.

During the plenary, the lower chamber resolved to summon the Minister of  Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, to explain the preparedness of the Nigerian contingent for the sports festival.

The resolutions followed the unanimous adoption of a motion at the plenary titled, “Need to Investigate Activities of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development on [the] Failed Doping Test by Nigeria Athletes at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.”

While moving the motion, the lawmaker representing Ijesa South Federal Constituency of Osun, Babatunde Ayeni, said the Nigerian delegation to the Olympic Games fared well in terms of performance, thereby raising the country’s rating the comity of nations.

He recalled the outstanding performance of the Nigerian football team at the 1996 Olympics where the country bagged a historic first soccer gold medal at the Centennial Games in Atlanta, United States of America.

Consequently, the lawmakers resolved to “Invite the Minister Youth and Sports Development to brief the Committee on Sports on the level of Nigeria’s compliance with extant regulations set by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the independent anti-doping arm, Athletics Integrity Unit.”

They also asked, “the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to put necessary measures in place to ensure compliance with extant regulations at both local and international competitions.”

Similarly, the House mandated its Committee on Sports to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the failed doping test to forestall future occurrences.

U20 Athletics: Sports Minister Announces Cash Awards for Medalists

A file photo of the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare.

 

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare has announced cash awards for Team Nigeria athletes who win medals at the ongoing World Athletics U20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya where 200 countries are competing.  Nigeria is 3rd on the medals table so far.  

Dare had charged and promised the athletes before the Championships began that those who do the nation proud will be handsomely rewarded, a statement that has now seen the light of day.

The cash awards announced will see the athletes receive $5000 for Gold, $3000 for Silver and $2000 for Bronze medals.

READ ALSO: Nse Uko Wins 400m Gold At World Athletics U20 Championships

Already by the close of Day 4, Nigeria had recorded her best ever outing in history at the Championships with 3 Gold and 2 Bronze medals.

This medal haul has moved Nigeria to third place on the medals table behind the hosts Kenya and surprise package Finland.

Imaobong Nse Uko flies the Nigerian flag in Nairobi, Kenya.
Imaobong Nse Uko flies the Nigerian flag in Nairobi, Kenya.

 

Nigeria’s Mixed 4×400m relay team started the gold rush before Imaobong Nse Uko(400m women) and Udodi Onwuzurike (200m men)won the finals of their events in dominant fashion.

Favour Ofili (200m women) and Chinacherem Nnamdi (Javelin) won Team Nigeria’s Bronze medals.

There are expectations of more podium finishes for Team Nigeria in the 4×100m (men and women) and 4×400m (women) relays on Sunday, the final day of the Championships.

Medal-winning athletes of Team Nigeria at the just concluded Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan were also given cash awards, with the Federal Government tripling the amount the athletes got in previous Olympics.

This is however the first time that athletes to the World Athletics U20 Championships would ever be financially rewarded for their performances.

Sports Minister Congratulates Nigeria Mixed Relay Team On Historic Win

A file photo of the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare.

 

The Minister for Youth and Sports Development Sunday Dare has lauded Nigeria’s 4x400m mixed relay team for their historic feat at the ongoing World Athletics U-20 Championship in Nairobi, Kenya.

The winning team, comprised of Johnson Nnamani, Imaobong Nse Uko, Opeyemi Oke, and Bamidele Ajayi, set a 3:19.70 African and Championship record to become the first winners of the event at the championship.

It was also Nigeria’s first medal in the championship which began on Wednesday in Kenya.

The delighted Sports Minister advised the athletics body to take the victory as a springboard in restoring the country’s past glory.

“I want to specially congratulate our U-20 team for making history in Nairobi. This gold is for all Nigerians and this should serve as the perfect start the new board of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria needs to correct the ills of the immediate past and return Nigeria among the major athletics nations in the world,” he said.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Wins U-20 Inaugural 4x400m Mixed Relay Championship

 

The quartet of Johnson Nnamani, Imaobong Nse Uko, Opeyemi Oke, and Bamidele Ajayi

 

The medal is also Nigeria’s first relay gold medal in the championship and Mr. Dare is optimistic that the dominance in “our area of strength” had just begun.

“I remember how dominant we were in the early years of the championship when we dominated the sprint and quarter-mile events. I still vividly recall how Tina Iheagwan, Falilat Ogunkoya, and Mary Onyali dominated the 100m and 200m events at the inaugural edition of the championship in Athens, Greece in 1986,” he further stated.

“I am calling on the AFN to ensure the athletes discovered here are monitored and given the necessary encouragement to make them follow in the footsteps of their predecessors like Ogunkoya, Onyali, Ese Brume, Chioma Ajunwa, and Blessing Okagbare who grew to become individual Olympic medallists for Nigeria.”

Dwindling Resources Responsible For Rising Unemployment In Nigeria – Minister

 

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has blamed the rising unemployment in the country on the dwindling resources.

Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Thursday to mark International Youth Day, the Sports Minister said the country has witnessed dwindling resources to cater for the over 200 million Nigerians, in which the majority of the population are the youths.

“Without giving an excuse, it boils down to resources. We have seen government resources over time dwindle,” the Minister said in reaction to the rising figures in the unemployment rate in the country.

“When you also go to other countries where you find unemployment stabilise for a while, it is a collaborative effort on the part of the government, private corporations and the international NGOs working together.”

On efforts made by the current administration in empowering the youths, Dare explained that the Federal Government is committed to equipping young Nigerians with the requisite skills – vocational and technical – stressing that it is the future of jobs as recommended by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations.

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare speaks during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on August 12, 2021.

 

While noting that most jobs involve people acquiring the needed digital skills, the Minister noted that the focus of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration “is making sure that we provide our youths with the digital skills that they need to compete.”

READ ALSO: Court Declines Okorocha’s Application To Stop Confiscation Of His Properties

Nigeria relies on crude oil which accounts for about 10% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 70% of government revenue and more than 83% of the country’s total export earnings, according to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Africa’s most populous nation is the world’s 8th oil exporter, and its oil reserves are estimated at about 35 billion barrels.

However, oil fell below $70 a barrel on Wednesday as the United States urged OPEC and its oil-producing partners to boost output; saying current production was not enough and could threaten the global economic recovery.

Similarly, the global COVID-19 pandemic has affected several countries of the world, with billions budgeted to cushion the effect on economies.

 

On Nigeria’s Participation At The 2020 Tokyo Olympics – Sunday Dare

A file photo of the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare.

 

 

Not wanting to add to the public distraction, I have deliberately waited until the end of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games before making any observations regarding the various reports on Nigeria’s participation in the quadrennial games.

 

2. This was out of respect for our athletes who had committed so much effort and made such considerable personal sacrifice in order to represent our nation as best as they could.  Overall, we should be proud of Team Nigeria and the effort they made. The bottom line is that these games should always be about the athletes and the spirit of friendly competition and excellence the Olympics are meant to engender.

 

3. Sadly, some people seem not to have embraced either the good cause of our national athletic pursuits or the collegial and noble spirit that the Olympics promote.

 

4. The rancour and confusion some people seem intent on sowing are terribly out of place given the impressive performance of our team and good spirit with which they performed. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are now over, which means we can begin to honestly and objectively assess what was accomplished as well as what we must do to improve performance for future contests.

 

5. Nigeria succeeded with two (2) medals – a silver in wrestling won by Blessing Oborodudu and a bronze in long jump won by Ese Brume. Their performances were inspiring for they affirmed we can and should compete at the highest levels across the full range of sports events. Yes, we had wished and worked for more medals. But we must also put things in perspective. The medal outcome at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics stands as Nigeria’s best result in the last 13 years.

 

6. Moreover, the athletes of Team Nigeria did their nation proud. Many of them reached the finals of their respective sports and, competing with all they had, were in contention for medals until the final moment. Anyone who saw their efforts would have nothing but the utmost respect for them, their coaches, and all the technical staff that made Tokyo possible.

 

7. I thank President Muhammadu Buhari for his unrelenting support for Sports and Youth development and indeed for the opportunity to serve and lead our participation at these games. Team Nigeria placed 74th position on the final  Olympic medal table among 205 participating countries, despite our small contingent to the games. We were 8th among 52 African countries that participated. Team Nigeria excelled in many areas that engender hope for greater success in the future.

 

8. Nigeria had five Olympic finalists in 100 meters Hurdles Women, Short Put, Long jump, Wrestling, and 100 meters men. Team Nigeria broke the 13-year-old jinx of no medal in Long jump and 25 years of no finalist in the men’s 100 meters and secured a medal in wrestling for the very first time. Overall, our performance was good, and more importantly, it is headed in the right direction.

 

9. While the general trends and overall performance were positive, I must mention two unfortunate incidents that occurred.

 

10. First is the mishap resulting in 10 Team Nigeria athletes being ruled ineligible to compete for missing their mandatory Out of Competition Test, OTC. When notice of this ruling got to me, I immediately mobilized my team and the AFN leadership to see how the situation could be salvaged. We mounted a vigorous appeal process with the Athletics Integrity Unit, AIU, and had the team members complete the tests.  However,  timing became a critical issue. Despite our energetic appeal, the deciding committee made its announcement which gave no latitude to our team members for what was only an inadvertent lapse.

 

11. The adverse decision was painful to accept. We had prepared carefully and eagerly for the Olympics with the expectation that each person, federation, coach, and athlete would also complete the necessary preparations required of them. As Minister, I ensured that all necessary approvals were done so that all requisite tests and exams could be timely completed. For me, this unfortunate incident is most painful because these athletes had prepared long and hard and also in view of the challenging circumstances due to COVID-19.

 

12. As the Minister I must bear some institutional responsibility for this lapse.  I also had to depend and expect that each person in the long and often technical chain will perform their role expeditiously and with precision. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, someone failed in their responsibility and as Minister, I bear the responsibility and brunt of criticism.  But that is not enough. I must move to ensure that Nigeria never experiences another such moment. I have ordered a full investigation that will not only uncover what happened but will also, recommend a process where such lapses can never occur in the future and initiate leveraging compliance monitoring technology to guardrail this.

 

13. I have personally apologized to the affected athletes. Here and now, I personally apologize to all Nigerians for this ineligibility episode. The AFN has also taken responsibility and apologized to the athletes and to Nigerians.
14. Already, a new Medical and Anti-Doping Commission has been set up to establish a foolproof system of testing and ensure Nigeria exits the A Categorization by WADA.

 

Also, Blessing Okagbare remains one of our best athletes who has served Nigeria well. We empathize with her. Nigeria will monitor closely developments around her temporary suspension and appeal.

 

15. The second issue had to do with the apparel provided for the team.

 

16. The Ministry’s responsibility and that of the 38 National Sporting Federations, NSFs of kitting are well spelled out. The production of general wears for Team Nigeria is always the responsibility of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development. Procurement for the Competition Wear is the responsibility of the respective federations because of the fact that each sport requires specialized outfits. Boxing, Wrestling, Athletics, and each of the federations need different gears. The Ministry provides budgetary support to the federations.

 

17. The quantity of competition wears given to each athlete is the decision of the particular federation. No complaints came to my notice until the Tik Tok Video posted by one of the athletes went viral. We Immediately stepped in to manage the situation.
The Federation involved has been directed to provide a detailed explanation about the kit.

 

18. Team Nigeria was properly kitted for the games with a 9-item backpack using a local manufacturer in harmony with President Buhari’s policy on local content.

 

19. Before any federation which is a component of Team Nigeria however wears any brand, it must refer to the Ministry and the NOC for clearance and approval. The Ministry and NOC must be fully aware of the contract details by the Federation to protect the rights and freedoms of the athletes and ensure Nigeria’s interests are protected. In this situation, the Ministry wishes to state that the contractual arrangement between AFN and Puma prior to the Olympic Games has generated a lot of controversy between the former President of the Federation and the former Board members. I will not want to go into too many details on this issue because it is sub judice. Suffice it to say that the Ministry was not part of the agreement. The Tik Tok video on the issue was an attempt to create a media frenzy to embarrass Nigeria.

 

20. Following from the above, the issue relating to the competition wears vis a vis the alleged arrangement with Puma is most unfortunate. I have demanded a proper investigation into this matter. Such an inquiry will unearth the truth about how some people tried to sabotage Nigeria’s participation and undermine the country and our Olympic athletes.

 

21. On assumption of office as Minister of Youth and Sports 2 years ago, I began a gradual reformation of the National Sports Federations, NSFs.  For years, a few of these federations were very badly run. These reforms will take time. There already is and will be stiff resistance from some quarters, which is what we are witnessing now. But we are resolute to establish better sport’s management, a legacy President Muhammadu Buhari is desirous of bequeathing to our sports development.

 

22. There is much to hope for the future. In Tokyo, most of our athletes were young and debutants – first-time Olympians.
23. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics experience will move and challenge me to push our sports to a higher level and seek a better condition for all our athletes.

 

24. Team Nigeria went to Tokyo 2020 and competed against the best in the world. Two Olympics medals and a statistical performance that has a place in the history of our Olympic participation despite being one of our smallest contingents. We can perform even much better if we all hold onto the lessons learned.

 

25. I  remain grateful to all the athletes that so represented Nigeria well.

Tokyo Olympic Games: Sports Minister Showers Encomiums On D’Tigers

A file photo of the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare.

 

The Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has expressed his thanks and appreciation to the players and technical crew of Nigeria’s national men’s basketball team after the team’s campaign at the Olympic Games came to an end on Saturday.

“My thanks and appreciations go to the players and coaching staff of the D’Tigers,” said the Minister. “They represented Nigeria impressively and we thank them for their resilience, efforts, and their patriotic commitment.”

D’Tigers lost 80-71 to Italy to crash out of the men’s basketball event of the Tokyo Olympics but their performances before and during the Olympics give room for many to be optimistic about the future of the team led by United States-born coach Mike Brown.

D’Tigers comprised entirely of players making their debut at the Olympics, while some were participating in an international championship for the first time.

“They came and gave a good account of themselves to the world that Nigeria will compete amongst the best basketball nations,” continued the Minister. “And to Mike Brown and the coaching staff, thank you for building this team and your faith in the team.”

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s Mixed 4x400m Team Excited By African Record Set At Olympics Debut In Tokyo

He added: “You have performed tremendously well and Nigerians thank you sincerely.”

In a similar vein, Musa Kidda, the caretaker president of the Nigerian Basketball Federation, has expressed his gratitude to the men’s national basketball team for representing Nigeria “very well” at the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

D’Tigers, on Saturday, lost 80-71 to Italy to crash out of the men’s basketball event of the Tokyo Olympics.

They had lost earlier in the tournament to Australia and Germany, but the performance in general from D’Tigers, a team comprised entirely of players making their debut at the Olympics, gives cause to hope of greater things to come from the African champions.

“D’Tigers, it’s been such a long journey in such a short time,” began a message from the NBBF boss Kidda. “You have all done very well as athletes, coaches, and technical staff within the context of challenges we had to overcome.

“As President of NBBF, I would like to personally say thanks to all of you for representing your country Nigeria very well and assure you that Nigeria is proud of your efforts and staying power as a group.”

He added: “We need to stay together and continue building on what we have done here as African representatives. We shall definitely do better as we are stronger. Stay safe and strong guys.”

Tokyo Olympics: Sunday Dare Apologises To Disqualified Athletes

The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, made an appearance on Channels TV on July 27, 2020.
The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Sunday Dare

 

The Minister of Sports and Development, Mr. Sunday Dare has apologised to the 10 Nigerian athletes that were disqualified from participating in the 2020 Olympics currently holding in Tokyo.

Mr. Dare made this known on Friday, in a press statement by the Federal Ministry of Sports, titled, ‘Ministry Wades to stem crisis’ where he promised to investigate the circumstances surrounding their disqualification.

“The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has stepped in to stem the further crisis by addressing the issues that have arisen concerning Team Nigeria athletes.

“The Ministry is looking into some of the issues raised by the athletes and they are being addressed as quickly as possible.

“The Honourable Minister on Thursday morning in a meeting spoke directly with the 10 track and field athletes who will not be competing and assured them of their welfare. He apologized to them for the unfortunate development that led to their exclusion and promised that it would be fully investigated.”

The Director Federation of Elites Athletes Department, Dr. Simon Ebhojiaye, also disclosed that the ministry is aware of the situation and will address them.

He said “the Ministry is abreast of the situation on the ground and addressing them. Payment of various allowances commenced last week and it’s ongoing.”

10 Nigerian athletes were ruled ineligible to participate at the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Japan by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

The athletes were ruled ineligible due to failure to meet the minimum testing requirements under Rule 15 of the Anti-Doping Rules for ‘Category A’ federations.

Tokyo Olympics, Paralympics Camp Opens In Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Bayelsa

A file photo of the Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare with some athletes.

 

The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has finalised arrangements for the camping of Nigerian home-based athletes in four locations across the country.

According to the schedule for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic games, 10 sporting events will be camped in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Bayelsa from Monday, May 24th, 2021.

Director, Federation of Elites Athletes Department Dr Simeon Ebhojiaye confirmed the camping will get athletes into the mood for the Olympics and prepare adequately.

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“With just days to the official commencement of the Tokyo Olympics, our countdown commences on May 24, 2021, with camp for the home-based in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Bayelsa where athletes are expected to intensify their readiness for podium success in Tokyo,” he said. “We are also monitoring the performances of the foreign-based athletes closely.”

Dr. Ebhojiaye further stated, “Abuja will play host to Athletics, Canoeing, Rowing, Weightlifting, Para Athletics and Taekwondo, Lagos host Para Powerlifting and Para Table Tennis, Wrestling is camped in Bayelsa with Badminton in Port Harcourt.”

A file photo of the Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare with some athletes.

 

He affirmed that Nigeria decided to participate in only ten events where she has a competitive advantage.

This exercise is a fulfillment of the Ministry’s promise to organise Olympics camping for 90 days. The first phase will be done for 14 days in March. This is the longest camping ever organised for the Olympics and the objective is to win medals at the Tokyo games.

 

Tokyo Olympics: ‘Give This Country The Best,’ Sports Minister Tells Team Nigeria

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, having a chat with some of the athletes at the Moshood National Stadium in Abuja on May 3, 2021.

 

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has challenged athletes representing Nigeria at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to give their best to the country.

He made the call on Monday when he visited the athletes who have been training at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

“Your job is to run and give this country the best,” the minister told the athletes ahead of their departure for the United States on Thursday to participate in relay qualifiers.

He added, “Focus on your training and the goal ahead and leave the administration to us. The world is waiting to see what you can do, you must meet their expectations.”

Dare, who asked the athletes not to be distracted, showered encomium on some of the team members for their recent performance.

According to him, the future is bright for Nigeria to have podium performances at the Olympics.

The minister commended the performance of Tobi Amusan who got adopted a few weeks ago and now has the second world best time.

He also praised Grace Nwokocha and Adegoke Enoch who got adopted by the minister under the Adopt an Athlete Initiative.

Dare stressed the importance of providing good welfare for the athletes, noting that revealed that the ministry had put in place a detailed programme for them such that every trip and accommodation were monitored.

He gave an assurance that welfare would not be a problem for the athletes, saying it was important for them to remain focused in unity.

“I have been monitoring your preparations and I have met most of you personally. Whether you are home-based or foreign-based, Team Nigeria is one.

“Hence, we decided to take you to the US to join others so that you can blend as a team,” the minister said.

Minister Dissolves All Sports Federations Boards, Sets Up Caretaker Committees

A file photo of the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare.

 

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare has dissolved all sports federations boards, setting up caretaker committees. 

In a statement issued on Friday by the Director of Federation, Elites Athletes in the ministry, Dr. Simon Ebhojaiye, the dissolution followed the expiration of the National Olympic Sports Federations’ tenure.

“Within the last 4 years, a few of the National Sports Federations Boards performed remarkably well, having run a full Olympic cycle, the Boards of the NSFs inaugurated on 21 June 2017 are hereby dissolved to pave way for fresh elections,” the statement added.

“In order to ensure continuity in the administration of the Federations, Caretaker Committees are hereby put in place to manage the affairs of the Federations until elections are conducted and the new boards inaugurated.”

He noted that the committees will work tirelessly to enhance Team Nigeria’s participation at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the Japanese capital.

“The Ministry in partnership with the NOC will release in due course, the timetable for the elections into National Sports Federation Boards,” he explained.

Ebhojaiye urged Nigerians with interest in sports to continue their contributions to the development of sports in the country by joining various national sports federations.

Members Of Caretaker Committees

Below is the list of members of the caretaker committees as approved by the minister:

Aquatic Federation of Nigeria Caretaker, Babatunde Fatai William’s, Olumide George Athletic Federation of Nigeria; Francis Orbih Badminton Federation of Nigeria;  Eng. Musa Kida, Basketball Federation of Nigeria; Rtd General Joseph Ayeni, Nigeria Boxing Federation; DIG Sani Sani Mohammed, Nigeria Chess Federation; Professor Yahaya Ukwanya, Nigeria Cricket Federation; G Masari, Cycling Federation of Nigeria; Abubakar Gaya, Darts Federation of Nigeria; Alhaji U Nahuche, Nigeria Deaf Sports Federation; Abubakar Dangaladima, Fives Federation of Nigeria; Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Nigeria Golf Federation; Prince Kelvin Erhurnwunse, Gymnastic Federation of Nigeria.

Others are Samuel Ochecho, Handball Federation of Nigeria; Senator Andul Ningi, Nigeria Hockey Federation; Brig Gen. Z L Abubakar, Nigeria Judo Federation; Sila Agara, Karate Federation of Nigeria; Yakubu Abubakar Kickboxing Federation of Nigeria; Arc. Adewunmi Adekunle Nigeria Wushu Kungfu Federation; Rtd Rear Admiral Porbeni Festus, Nigeria Rowing, Canoeing and Yachting Federation; Comrade Iyorchia Grace, Nigeria Rugby Federation; Suleman Gora Nigeria Scrabble Federation; Maj. General Johnny Hamakim, Nigeria Shooting Federation; Oyerinde Adeboye, Nigeria Squash Federation; Chief Tikon Ishayaku, Nigeria Table Tennis Federation; Mrs. Margaret Binga, Nigeria Taekwondo Federation; Akindoju Olaoye Nigeria Tennis Federation, Usman Musa Traditional Sports Federation of Nigeria; Musa Nimrod, Nigeria Volleyball Federation; Tonobok Okowa, Nigeria Weightlifting Federation; Dr. Daniel Igali, Nigeria Wrestling Federation.

NPFL Will Kick-Off December 27th, Says Sports Minister Dare

A file of NPFL logo.

 

The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) is set to kick-off on the 27th of December, 2020, the Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Sunday Dare has said. 

Dare disclosed this at a press briefing at the National Stadium in Lagos on Friday, calming nerves over the resumption of the Nigerian league which has been on a break due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The minister dismissed insinuations that the country’s football is dead but admitted that interest in Nigerian football has waned over the years.

READ ALSO: Ministry Approves Nigeria’s Hosting Of Africa U-18 Girls Volleyball Championship

He noted that aside from the pandemic which has claimed thousands of lives across the globe, the football league in the West African country has not resumed due to issues with the organisers.

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According to him, the ministry will be meeting with the NPFL and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to fine-tune plans for the restart of football in the country. Clubs, he further mentioned, will be assessed for their readiness to resume action, stressing that the league will resume with the teams that are ready.

Sports enthusiasts had linked the poor outing of Nigerian teams in the CAF Champions League and the CAF Confederations Cup to the halting of the league.

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Both Plateau United and Kano Pillars recently crashed out of the Champions League and the Confederations Cup respectively, heightening calls for the resumption of the domestic league.

NFF President, Amaju Pinnick had on March 19th, 2020 announced the closure of football activities in Nigeria, citing the increased number of COVID-19 cases in the nation (five as of then).

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National Sports Festival Scheduled To Hold In February

The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, made an appearance on Channels TV on July 27, 2020.
The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, made an appearance on Channels TV on July 27, 2020.

 

After being postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions, the National Sports Festival has now been scheduled to hold from February 14 to 28.

The National Council on Sports made the announcement on Tuesday via a press statement.

“The National Council on Sports under the chairmanship of the Hon Minister of Youth and Sports Development Mr Sunday Dare at an Extra- Ordinary Council on Sports Virtual meeting held today 15th December 2020, unanimously agreed to host the NSF 2020 on 14- 28th 2021,” the statement said.

“Justifying the reasons behind the postponement from the initial date of 3rd-18th December 2020; the Hon. Minister explained to members of Council the need for better precautionary measures against COVID19 bearing in mind the expected influx of holiday makers during the festive period, as agreed between the Ministry, the Presidential Task Force on COVID19 and the Host State.

“Recall that the National Sports Festival tagged ‘EDO 2020’ was originally slated to hold early this year ( precisely March) but for the outbreak of the COVID-19 which necessitated the Postponement and suspension of all sporting activities to guard against the spread of the corona virus nationwide.”