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784 Athletes, 90 Schools/Teams set for MTN CHAMPS Grand Final in Abuja!

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Nearly 800 Athletes are set to engage in a battle for superiority at the fourth leg and Grand Final of MTN CHAMPS, which will hold from 1st to 3rd December, 2023, at the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja.

A press conference was held in Abuja on Wednesday, 29th November, 2023, to herald the highly anticipated event, and had in attendance MTN’s Chief Marketing Officer – Adia Sowho; MTN’s Acting General Manager, North West Region – Fasa Obazenu, and MTN’s Sponsorship Manager – Njide Ken-Odogwu.

Others are MoC Founder – Bambo Akani; MoC Chairman – Engr. Olu Akani; Secretary General of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) – Rita Mosindi, Treasurer of the Nigeria School Sports Federation (NSSF) – Dr. Oba Funsho Usman, and former men’s 400m National Champion and MoC Athlete Emmanuel Ojeli, who is one of the CHAMPS Ambassadors.

The 42 MVPs (Most Valuable Performers) selected across the first three locations of CHAMPS (Benin, Uyo and Ibadan) and sponsored for the Abuja Grand Final, also attended the event.

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In her opening address, MTN’s Sowho expressed her pleasure at the level of competition on display across the first three legs of CHAMPS, and is looking forward to an exciting climax.

She said: “It’s the finale week for MTN CHAMPS and it’s been a very exciting few weeks going to different parts of the country to experience Athletics, competition and a lot of national pride and energy from Nigeria’s youth. This has been such an exciting partnership for MTN; we’ve gotten all that we bargained for and then some, and I applaud Bambo Akani’s vision and the Making of Champions (MoC) team. We’re also very grateful to the thousands of young persons that showed up across all the events; we witnessed all of their joy, excitement and competitive spirit, and we’re really excited for this finale week.”

Recounting MoC’s sojourn within the Nigerian Athletics landscape in the past decade, MoC Founder Akani revealed the circumstances that led to the birth of MTN CHAMPS.

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“This has been a journey that started about 10 years ago for Making of Champions when we saw that there was a gap in Nigeria and we needed something to fill that gap. What’s interesting is that we went to Jamaica in 2013 (during their CHAMPS) and filmed a documentary on Nigeria’s history at the Olympics, and what we saw there convinced us that this needed to happen in Nigeria. These athletes here have been on a journey for the last two months and we have been on this journey for 10 years, and now MTN has really answered the prayers of all athletes in Nigeria by showing that Athletics has value in Nigeria.

“The numbers we’ve recorded across the previous legs show that MTN have touched on something; they’ve touched on the hunger for competition, and the performance of the athletes has been unprecedented; the quality and quantity of athletes at MTN CHAMPS is something we’ve never seen in Nigeria. We must a big thank you to MTN for making all of this possible. This is a gamechanger in Nigerian sports, in school sports history in Nigeria, and I think this is going to be the most powerful game changer for sports and nation building in Nigeria.”

Giving her address, AFN’s Mosindi appreciated the support of MTN in providing a competition of this calibre which has helped to curb the menace of age-cheating by providing three different age categories for the athletes to compete in (Cadet, Youth & Junior). She also appealed to the organisers to incorporate anti-doping campaigns in the course of competition, so as to sensitise the athletes on the harmful effects of doping.

NSSF’s Usman is confident that the athletes would put up impressive performances when the competition gets underway on Friday.

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“Nigerian students are talented and well endowed in sports if given the opportunity”, he said. “That opportunity is what MTN is giving to these Nigerian children, and by the end of this championship, a lot of future Olympians would have been discovered. We want to thank MTN for providing this big platform for Nigerian children, and I want to believe that this will not be in vain. When the story of the kids in sports, especially in Athletics is told, we will always remember MTN, MoC and all that have played a significant role in this feat.”

Participating schools commenced bib collection on Wednesday, and the exercise continues on Thursday at the Boardoom of the AFN Secretariat located within the Moshood Abiola Stadium, ahead of the competition on Friday.

ALL Athletes must also print the 1-page parental consent form for their parent or legal guardian to sign and come along with them to collect their bibs – a recognized contact of each Athletes’ School/Team should coordinate collection of their bibs and the return of their signed parental consent forms!

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