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I’M READY FOR NOLLYWOOD ROLE –AG GOLD MEDALIST, Enekwechi

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I’M READY FOR NOLLYWOOD ROLE  –AG GOLD MEDALIST, Enekwechi

Nigeria and African record holder in men’s Shot Put, Chukwuebuka Enekwechi, told CHARLES OGUNDIYA that it was not a difficult decision for him competing for Nigeria despite been born and raised in America. Excerpts…

 

It was another podium finish for you at your first African Games, how does it feel winning the gold medal in Morocco?

 

I feel great, I didn’t think I was in the best shape to achieve what I did but if you look at the series, every time I kept on improving on my last throw, so I don’t know where it came from but sometimes it is mental. At times you will be physically ready or at times unprepared, but if your mind can take it, then you will have a performance you could be proud of.

 

 

You won the athletics championships in Asaba last year by setting Championship Record of 21.08m, and now the track and field event of the African Games with a new Games record of 21.48m. Should Nigerians expect similar performance at the World Championships and the Olympic Games?

 

 

I can’t predict something like that but definitely I am working towards doing well at the World Championships, and also at the Olympics.

 

 

It has been a tough year for you taking part in several competitions, how have you been able to keep yourself fit all these while?

 

 

I don’t know really, but I pray a lot and like you said, this is the ninth month of competitiveness, it’s been pretty difficult, but somehow I have not had any major injury and so I am happy. I do a lot of things day to day, I make sure I eat well, a lot of strength, speed and I do a lot of technical work, I try to give myself the best opportunity to do well in each competition and still come out better in the next.

 

You were not happy despite setting a festival record at the 2018 National Sports Festival in Abuja last year, what really happened?

 

 

The long story short, the competition started without me knowing I took a taxi and rushed to the competition arena for my first throw in round one and there wasn’t a schedule printed out for the tournament which shouldn’t have been the case.

 

 

 

So how did you achieve your target despite the obstacles?

 

 

For the festival I didn’t achieve my goal. I wanted to throw well over 21m in December to set me up well for the larger meets like the Diamond League in the New Year, but at the end of the day it didn’t help me well as far as my rankings for the year.

 

What has 2019 given you as an athlete?

 

 

I will say it has been quite an experience, I know how to travel better and compete better even when I am not in great shape like I threw 21.8 two weeks ago and I was not picking, but I don’t crucify myself. So far in 2019, I have had about 15 competitions, and with each one I learn something new, there was a time when I had problems throwing 21m but I knew what to do once I went back home and back to training. I changed my diet, changed my lifting and it has been a learning experience for me all the way.

 

 

How easy or difficult has it been competing for Nigeria?

 

There are many challenges that people have never seen before, that Nigerian athletes will face regularly, but at the end of the day, there is a kind of family aspect to it that I love, there is kind of camaraderie about being part of Team Nigeria, I have seen some good days and some bad, but I am still here doing well for the country.

 

Was it a case of trying hard to convince you to compete for Nigeria?

 

 

I have always wanted to compete for Nigeria, the reason I wanted to do that was not far-fetched. Been born and raised in America, I still wanted to have that link with Nigeria my country, and I feel that the best way to do that would be doing something for the country in terms of athletics, something I am good at. So as to bridge that gap of been born in America, I always wanted to be a Nigerian athlete. I actually wanted to represent Nigeria at the World University Games in 2015, but I had a serious back and groin injury that ended my season early, then my next opportunity was the Olympics in 2016, I didn’t qualify and the next year was 2017, I have been trying since 2015 but it finally worked out in 2017.

 

 

Are you fulfilled competing for Nigeria?

 

 

It has been quite a success but I have not done it alone and I’d love to say thanks for the opportunities. Yes I will say there have been some successes, there have been mishaps, but we have to focus on the positives.

 

How did you come into athletics?

 

 

I wanted to do a sport in High School, so when in my last three years, I decided I wanted to do individual sport; wrestling or track and field but the track and field coach found me first, he gave me the medical form and I filled it, gave it a trial and since then I loved it.

 

 

You said wrestling or track and field, have you been involved in wrestling before?

 

 

No, but I was going to try then.

 

 

What interests you in wrestling?

 

I just loved how the great athletes in the sport were well rounded. I love the head tail of the sports, been alone in the ring by yourself, it is kind of the same thing with throws, you are all alone in the ring by yourself and the results depend on you alone, your passion and also it is a points system, I just fell in love with the sport, but fortunately, I found myself in track and field.

 

 

What has been the support from your parents?

 

 

They have been really supportive, although now that I am 26 and i don’t really rely on them for finances and stuff like that, they speaks to me regularly, give me encouragement. When I was in Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games, there were 12 to 14 hours’ time difference, my mother was the first one to text me after I won the silver medal, so despite being in New York, she was watching and following my progress. Also before I joined track and field, they were not fans of the sports, but it has been a massive support from them.

 

 

Did they in anyways raise objections when you decided to compete for Nigeria?

 

 

They backed me and supported my decision. I explained it to them and it wasn’t even too much of a discussion; it was just that they wanted to be sure I knew what I was doing and they were very supportive of that decision.

 

 

Do you always look forward to competing for Nigeria?

 

 

It is always a big reunion whenever we have a competition anywhere in the world. That’s what I always look forward to, not just because there is going to be monetary rewards or getting a standard, I always look forward to seeing my friends again. It is a good experience for me.

 

 

Do you relate with the foreign-based athletes more than those back at home?

 

 

We have similar struggles, similar desires and goals, we are all here for the same reason, so I don’t think there is a big gap at all between the foreign-based and home-based. Maybe there might be a difference of expression, because we grew up in different environments, but we are all focussing on one goal, we all practice all together and sports is one thing that unites us all.

 

 

Apart from been part of the country’s track and field, do you engage yourself in other activities like taking Nigerian cuisine and other things like that?

 

 

The region I am in, the Midwest, there is not a very big Nigerian presence, so it’s kind of difficult finding Nigerian cuisine, but I do partake in Nigerian music and if i get the Nigerian food i grew up with I eat. My parents raised me that way. Foods like garri, egusi soup, moin moin, which is one of my favourites; those are the foods I grew up with.

 

 

How has the struggle been since you stopped depending on your parents?

 

 

I wouldn’t call myself wealthy perse, but I have been able to make an honest living through track and field, I am earning my living now and I hope it continues like this. It is a job for me at this point and I know I am doing a good job.

Are you planning to come back and set up something to give back to the country, especially the younger ones still trying to make it in the country?

 

 

I am already thinking about that but not at the moment because I am still kind of building. This is just my third year as a professional, I have not really put too much thought into it but it is something I would love to do in the future, grassroots, get the kids involved and probably some funding if I could be in a position to do that.

 

What is your advice for the athletes back home in Nigeria?

 

 

The word speaks for itself, there is nothing special about those in America, people have been painting pictures that America is a place flowing with milk and honey, but nothing much like that. The talents are abound in Nigeria and if you look at someone like Divine Oduduru, he was a great athlete before coming to America, they just polished what was already golden and he started exploding like a mega star. If it works for him, it can also work for others. The way I look at it, Nigeria is full of talents, it’s just for those talents to discover themselves, make themselves available for the coaches, get that exposure and they can be great. I think it is possible for them to excel back at home in Nigeria.

 

 

What do you think of your co athlete, Mike Edward, going to the Big Brother Nigeria House?

 

 

I was very happy for Mike when I heard about it, I actually sent him a text when I heard about the BBN thing, I think it is a big exposure for him. He is planning for 2020 season and doing Big Brother is a big thing for himself, the sport, and for entertainment as well. It is now known that athletes can be public figures apart from someone that just runs, jumps or throws. I love what he has achieved in the house so far.

 

 

Do you think other athletes can try their hands on maybe going into music, movies and so on, and personally will you try that?

 

 

I do think about it at times and if anybody is reading or listening to this interview, you can scout me, recruit me for a Nollywood movie, I can act some movies. People are more entertaining than they think; all you need is an opportunity. I think I like the fact that Mike is taking advantage of that opportunity and I’d love more athletes to do that.

 

 

How do you manage women?

 

 

For me it is very easy and that’s why I have some success in track and field. I am very goal oriented, I don’t get distracted easily by anything, drugs, alcohol, wild girls, I just remain focused and that has been helpful going forward.

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Contract impasse: Rohr gives NFF December deadline

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Contract impasse: Rohr gives NFF December deadline

…blames jet lag for slow start against Lesotho

…salutes Eagles’ doggedness

 

Super Eagles Manager, Gernot Rohr, wants contract talks with his employer the Nigeria Football Federation sorted out before the end of the year.

Sources close to the German disclosed that the 66 year old wants the issue trashed out before December.

Rohr has been in charge of the Eagles since 2016, during which time he has won 21 matches, lost 10 and drawn seven, but he declared after Sunday’s 4-2 win away to Lesotho in the second match of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers that he could now discuss the contract after the victories against Benin Republic and Lesotho last weekend

The former handler of Niger Republic wants it discussed before the next AFCON match in August 2020, according to a source close to him.

“He wants his future sorted out as soon as possible so that he will concentrate on the job of building a new team. He has spoken to them (the NFF)  about his desire to continue on the job and encouraged his employers to sort everything out before the end of the year,” the source said.

Rohr has admitted he would love to continue with the Eagles, especially as he is happy to see his band of youngsters doing well, but he hinted further that the choice on whether he stays or not depends on what the NFF’s hierarchy have in mind and what they would ultimately put on the table for him to peruse.

”I enjoy coaching this team of course. We have a project also, we have young players, we are progressing and we started very well the qualifiers and the qualifiers will continue after the end of my contract. The ball is in the camp of the officials now,” Rohr submitted.

The Eagles came from a goal down to record an emphatic 4-2 win over Lesotho on Wednesday and the German blamed his team’s slow start on jet fatigue after they arrived Maseru, the venue of the match, only few hours to the start of the game.

“We know that it’s difficult to win in Lesotho especially when you concede the first goal. They played very well in the beginning, but we had to take the game in our hands.

“We had a long travel at night and you can see that at the beginning, my players were not fully concentrated, he said.

He praised his players for their doggedness after they came from behind to claim victories in their last two games.

“Some matches, you score the first goal and in some matches you concede first,” Rohr told reporters after the game.

“We scored first against Brazil and Ukraine but we didn’t win, so I prefer to concede first and win the match.

“This has proven that my players have a good spirit because they never give up.

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Quadre, Mohammed win J5 Abuja ITF titles

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Quadre, Mohammed win J5 Abuja ITF titles

Oyinlomo Quadre claimed her 3rd ITF Junior title of the season, with a sublime display to beat 2nd seed, Marylove Edwards 6-1 6-0, in the second leg of the NTF International Junior Championships in Abuja.

The boy’s final which was also an all-Nigerian affair, saw Musa Mohammed edged top seed Abayomi Philips in a thrilling contest with scores at 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-2.

NTF president Ifedayo Akindoju expressed delight at the performance of Nigerians at the two week tourney pledging support for development of junior players in the country.

Quadre, Nigeria’s No. 1 junior player, outclassed her compatriot adding the J5 Abuja title to the Megrine and Cotonou titles, she won in April and September, respectively.

US-based Edwards, who claimed the first leg title last week, came into Sunday’s final on a 7-match winning streak, but was overwhelmed by her Morocco-based compatriot, who dictated proceedings all through

While Quadre’s victory over Edwards was quick and efficient, Mohammed who was the vanquished in the final of the first week losing to Canice Abua, had to dig deep to beat the tournament’s top seed, Abayomi Philips, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-2 and claim the boys singles title – his first title-triumph on the ITF Junior Circuit.

He thus denied Philips a second iTF title of the season following the youngster’s success in Benin in September.

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Lesotho tough for Eagles despite easy win – Musa

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Lesotho tough for Eagles despite easy win – Musa

…drops retirement hint

Super Eagles skipper Ahmed Musa has played down their 4-2 win over Lesotho in a 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifiers, saying the Southern Africans gave them a tough tie.

The Eagles came from a goal down to record an emphatic 4-2 victory in Maseru Sunday evening and the Al Nasr of Saudi Arabia forward insisted Lesotho proved a tough nut to crack for them.

”The  team played very good, as you can see we came back from a goal down to win, it’s not that easy. We played a very good team today,” the Super Eagles captain told reporters post-match.

One of the untouchables in the Super Eagles side that finished third at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, Musa, has not started a game for the national team since a 1-0 win vs Tunisia in July and the former Leicester City forward said it was necessary to give younger players more opportunities in the team.

With 13 games left to reach milestone 100 caps Musa hinted he could bow out of international football soon.

“it is about time we have a new crop of players for the national team,” Musa said.

“The young players are coming up and we have to give them a chance. Soon maybe Ahmed Musa may not want to continue playing anymore and we have to groom new set of players totake over from those that are retiring.”

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Ighalo, Lawal hail new goal king Osimhen

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Ighalo, Lawal hail new goal king Osimhen

Victor Osimhen’s incredible goal-scoring spree has attracted plaudits from all quarters and the latest coming from the man he took over from, Odion Ighalo, who has described the Lille star’s run as incredible.

Osimhen scored two goals and provided two assists to lead Eagles to a 4-2 win over Lesotho to take his tally to three in just two games of the ongoing 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Ighalo who announced his retirement from international football after using his goals to propel Nigeria to a bronze medal feat at the 2019 African Cup of Nations in Egypt is happy that the Lille star took over from where he left off.

Osimhen took to social media to express his delight at the delightful individual and collective performances and his post was duly acknowledged by  Ighalo who responded by saying:

“Congrats bro, keep the fire burning.”

Similarly, another former Nigerian midfielder, Dimeji Lawal, has hailed the Eagles and showerd special praise on Osimhen.

“It was a great game; we got the three points that we were looking for and the boys fought very well from one – nil down to be victorious.

“I think Osimhen was excellent in the game and all the other guys put up a good show,” he added.

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Zenith Bank, Delta promise amazing Principals’ Cup final

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Zenith Bank, Delta promise amazing Principals’ Cup final

As the final match of the 2019 Delta State Principals’ Cup draws near, the state government and the sponsors, Zenith Bank are planning exciting time for the finalists and fans of the game.

Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba is the venue of the final billed for November 28 between College of Commerce, Warri and Zappa Mixed Secondary School, Asaba.

However, Zenith Bank has concluded arrangements to shower the best three teams with gift items on final day.

Group Managing Director of the bank, Ebenezer Onyeagwu, said there would be plenty to celebrate on final day.

Onyeagwu said: “We are going to celebrate the fact that the 2019 final is taking place, we will celebrate the best three team players and there will be gift items for all the players in the first to third categories.

“It is a yearly thing. We will give them items that will be useful to them in school, in the game and other things of interest to the average Nigerian youth. Our pledge from the beginning is to make the tournament bigger and better every year and that will again happen on November 28.”

The Commissioner for Basic and Secondary School Education in Delta, Chief Partrick Ukah, also told newsmen that the government has concluded plans to make the final match a big spectacle for the finalists.

“Delta is noted for excellence in sports and that is why are all set to make the final a big event. There will be side attractions at half time while we also have plans for some other pleasant surprises which I don’t want to talk about now,” Ukah said.

To qualify for final, Zappa Mixed Secondary School defeated Destiny International School, Ughelli, 1-0 while College of Commerce Warri defeated Okotie -Eboh Grammar School Sapele 5-0.

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Akinyele’s demise, great loss, says Gumel

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Akinyele’s demise, great loss, says Gumel

The board of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), led by its President, Habu Gumel commiserates with the Akinyele family for the loss of their father who died last week.

Gumel said: “Chief Alex Akinyele was a jovial and hardworking man who loved to work with athletes, technical team and administrators during his days as the Chairman of National Sports Commission.

“He was very articulate and result-oriented in whichever assignment before him and the commission. The news of his demise coming during the visit of the President,  International Olympic Committee, Dr Thomas Bach, came with mixed feelings but a great loss to the sporting fraternity and the Olympic family not only in Nigeria but the world at large.

“On behalf of the the board of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, we send our sincere condolences and pray that the family we have the fortitude to bear this loss.”

Chief Alex Akinyele was born April 24, 1938 and until his death, he was the Lisa Jigan and Lobosin of Ondo Kingdom.

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StarTimes excites soccer fans with live European Qualifiers

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StarTimes excites soccer fans with live European Qualifiers

As the 2019 European Championship Qualifiers continue, StarTimes is gearing up to deliver a live broadcast of the matches today, Tuesday as Belgium tackles Cyprus and Germany take on Northern Ireland while Spain locks horn with Romania by 8:40 pm African Time.

StarTimes Nigeria has assured subscribers of the live broadcast of this games on its 5 sports channels, as well as on StarTimes ON streaming application, live and in HD in all Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the Public Relations Manager StarTimes, Mr. Kunmi Balogun, “The live telecast of these matches reflects the firm’s commitment to providing the best sporting action to its subscribers at a very affordable rate. Football lovers can also enjoy the thrills and action of these games and other league games such as the Bundesliga, French Ligue 1 and Chinese Super League to ensure that our subscribers across the globe are satisfied”,

He maintained that “we have shown and we will continue to demonstrate that our focus is on satisfying our subscribers by bringing to their living rooms live matches.

from the biggest players and clubs in top European leagues. These upcoming games is another opportunity to excite our subscribers”, he said.

StarTimes is the leading digital TV operator in Africa, serving nearly 20 million users through DTT, DTH and online streaming platforms with 480 authorized channels.

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Lesotho Coach: We lost to a very good team

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Lesotho head coach Thabo Senong hailed the quality of the Super Eagles after the Crocodiles went down to a 4-2 defeat against the visitors in their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying clash at Setsoto Stadium, Maseru on Sunday, reports Completesports.com.

The hosts who failed to score a goal in their previous two outings against the Super Eagles, opened scoring through Nkoto Masoabi in the 11th minute.

Alex Iwobi restored parity for Nigeria in the 28th minute after he was teed up by Osimhen, while Samuel Chukuweze gave Nigeria the lead for the first time in the game in the 34th minute nodding home Victor Osimhen’s cross.

Osimhen then added two more goals in 75th and 84th minutes respectively. Chidozie Awaziem’s own goal a minute from time made the scoreline 4-2.

“For me, i don’t have much to say about our defeat to Nigeria, i think to come back from 1-0 down to win is not that easy,” Senong told reporters after the game.

“I will say we played against a very good team today.”

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Sports

Minister meets NFF Board, demands written explanation for dismal outings

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Minister meets NFF Board, demands written explanation for dismal outings
  • Asks secretariat to submit nominal role

 

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare on Monday met officials of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) to demand a written explanation as to the exit of Nigerian teams from football tournaments.
In a meeting that lasted less than 30 minutes, the minister directed that NFF should “provide the Federal Government with written explanation to the developments of our teams failing in four major tournaments.
“From stock taking it is now time to render account to Nigerians,” he said even as he warned that “We need to take very difficult decisions.”
The NFF secretariat particularly came under scrutiny for the technical failings of the board.
“We need to run a reality check. Nigerians are not happy with our state of football. We must start with the football administration. Nigerians want to see us working proactively to get things working again.
“I am not saying we should win at all cost, beyond identifying various issues what do we need to do to deal with these issues.  “The board has a responsibility. I am asking the board to do surgical examinations of what has gone wrong with our football,” he said.
The Minister also demanded for the nominal roll of the NFF as it was revealed that the federation has continued to pay some people with expired contracts.
He said the Ministry’s concern goes beyond the dismal performance but is also about the domestic league.
Responding NFF Chairman, Amaju Pinnick lamented that federation was faced with a toxic situation that affected its administration.
In recent time both of Nigeria’s Male and female U23 teams failed to qualify for next year’s Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Incidentally, Nigeria’s male team won the bronze medal at the last Games in Rio, Brazil.
The nation’s Golden Eaglets and Flying Eagles along with the Super Falcons all performed woefully at their various World Cups.

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Quadre, Mohammed win J5 Abuja ITF titles

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Quadre, Mohammed win J5 Abuja ITF titles

Oyinlomo Quadre claimed her 3rd ITF Junior title of the season, with a sublime display to beat 2nd seed, Marylove Edwards 6-1 6-0, in the second leg of the NTF International Junior Championships in Abuja.
The boy’s final which was also an all-Nigerian affair, saw Musa Mohammed edged top seed Abayomi Philips in a thrilling contest with scores at 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-2.
Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF) President, Ifedayo Akindoju expressed delight at the performance of Nigerians at the two-week tournament pledging support for development of junior players in the country.
Quadre, Nigeria’s No. 1 junior player, outclassed her compatriot adding the J5 Abuja title to the Megrine and Cotonou titles, she won in April and September, respectively.
US-based Edwards, who claimed the first leg title last week, came into Sunday’s final on a seven-match winning streak, but was overwhelmed by her Morocco-based compatriot, who dictated proceedings all through
While Quadre’s victory over Edwards was quick and efficient, Mohammed, who was the vanquished in the final of the first week losing to Canice Abua, had to dig deep to beat the tournament’s top seed, Abayomi Philips, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-2 and claim the boys singles title – his first title-triumph on the ITF Junior Circuit.
He thus denied Philips a second ITF title of the season following the youngster’s success in Benin in September.

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