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Northern Schools/Teams set for thrilling contest at MTN CHAMPS Jos!

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The battle for supremacy will be ignited among 69 Secondary Schools and 84 Junior/Senior Teams as MTN CHAMPS Jos holds sway at the New Jos Stadium from Tuesday 23rd April, to Friday 26th April, with the throws expected to take place at the Rwang Pam Stadium on the same dates.

On Monday, 22nd April, a press conference was held at Liberty Hall, Jos, and several dignitaries attended the event, including Maram Isaac, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education (Secondary); Barrister Rebecca Shaseet, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports; Prof. Ezra Gunen, Director of Sports, Plateau State, and Emamoke Ogoro, General Manager, Brand and Communication, MTN.

Others included David Bot Danboyi, Representative of the Nigeria School Sports Federation (NSSF), Rita Mosindi, AFN Secretary General, and Deji Ogeyingbo, Country Manager, Making of Champions (MoC).

In his opening remarks, Prof. Gunen shared his excitement about Jos hosting the northern leg of MTN CHAMPS, mentioning that the competition aligns with the state’s focus. He encouraged everyone to appreciate the local culture and highlighted the state’s history of producing top athletes.

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He said: “The mantra for the government is, ‘The time is now’. The time is now for everything to change positively; the time is now for everything in sports to flourish; the time is now for agriculture, which will provide nutritional backup for the athletes. And the time is now for everything. I explore you to feel free, mix with the people, enjoy our weather, enjoy our culture, enjoy everything about Plateau state. We are looking forward to hosting sporting events in Jos more frequently to help introduce the sport to younger age groups.

Speaking on behalf of the Commissioner of Youth and Sports, Barrister Shaseet shared the ministry’s plans for youth activities and sports development. She talked about the ministry’s collaboration with other agencies in the state and some of the improvements recorded, whilst urging MTN to return to the state in the nearest future.

Isaac who represented the Commissioner of Education, reiterated the ministry’s support for MTN CHAMPS and looks forward to a fruitful partnership with all the stakeholders involved.

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MTN’s Ogoro stated that the goal is to make Nigeria well-known globally in Track and Field. In her speech, she also confirmed that MTN’s foray into Athletics is a long-term investment.

She said, “To be honest, I am really excited about MTN participating in Athletics. I think the very first time I got the call from MoC articulating their vision, I just knew this was going to be a very big sponsorship property. And I tell you, if Nigeria has about 70 percent of its population below the age of 20, this is what to use to actively engage the youth. The vision for MTN is to put Nigeria on the map, right there with the likes of USA and Jamaica. We are definite about making sure that happens, because we have so much talent that is undiscovered.”

AFN’s Mosindi commended MTN and MoC for their efforts, and recommended increasing the number of venues for each season so as to reach more cities. She also applauded the efforts of the sports body in Plateau State.

“Next year, it is not going to be four venues; we will like to see MTN CHAMPS extending to five, six or seven venues so that we can cover all the regions. To be honest with you, we have more talent in this country than anywhere in the world.

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Ogeyingbo highlighted how MoC’s work in the past decade has provided the perfect template for MTN CHAMPS, citing the example of Favour Ashe who was discovered at the MoC Athletics Trials in Ughelli less than six years ago and trained by MoC for three years before securing a US Collegiate Scholarship. Ashe is currently the only man globally to have run sub-10 seconds in the 100m so far this year (9.99s and 9.96s), which has already tied him with Davidson Ezinwa and Seun Ogunkoya as the Nigerians with the highest number of sub-10s runs in history (four each).

He said: “This is the perfect proof of what we have set out to do and why we sent out that email to MTN a few years ago. There are very few people on this earth who have run a sub-10, let alone four times, and that is just one person. We have the potential to do way bigger things with the support of MTN. I’m very delighted that we’re doing this in Jos, particularly because the state is known for having good runners in the middle and long distances.”

MTN CHAMPS Jos is coming up right after the successful hosting of the Ibadan leg, which had about 2700 athletes participating. Nearly 1500 athletes have signed up to compete in Jos, while the Grand Final for Season 2 will hold in Calabar from 30th April to 3rd May.

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