ND Western Limited, an indigenous oil and gas company and a pioneer lead sponsor of Making of Champion’s Student-Athlete Scholarship to produce Nigerian Champions, has announced a full US collegiate scholarship recipient for one of its student athletes.

The five-year partnership between ND Western and Making of Champions (MoC) has awarded Student-Athlete Scholarships at both Secondary School and University in Nigeria, as well as sponsored talent search competitions which have discovered current and future star athletes for Nigeria.

Founded in 2013, Making of Champions Limited is a Sports Media and Management company that was set up to elevate the profile and performance of Sports in Nigeria and the rest of Africa. The company is dedicated to maximising the potential that sports has to bring the country and the continent on a whole, together.

L-R: Elizabeth Akpan (Maria’s mother); Head of Commercial, ND Western Limited, Sunday Okunbor; Maria Umoibang, and Emmanuel Akpan (Maria’s uncle) at the official announcement and send off ceremony held recently at the company’s office in Lagos ahead of Maria’s departure to the US, having received a Collegiate scholarship to South Plains College, Texas.

Based on her incredible potential, promising teenage athlete Maria Umoibang has been awarded a US Collegiate Scholarship at South Plains College in Texas. This would not have been possible without ND Western’s “Pre-Collegiate Scholarship”. The scholarship paid for her tuition, training, physiotherapy, apparel, gym, transport, and dietary support, as well as covering all her US visa processing expenses and even her flight to USA to start her new life as a Collegiate Student-Athlete!

Maria was trained by Olympic Medalist & MoC Head Coach Deji Aliu, and was the fastest 15-year-old in Nigeria in 2020, before becoming one of the youngest athletes ever to contest the 100m Final at Nigeria’s Olympic Trials at the age of 16 in 2021.

Speaking at the official announcement, Managing Director of ND Western, Eberechukwu Orji said: “ND Western is committed to investing in the next generation and Making of Champions has been a good partner in ensuring young talents can live their dreams. Sustainable development is fundamental to our operations hence, we stay true to our Environmental, Social and Governance, ensuring both work in tandem to enable us to contribute our quota in achieving a better society and in extension, a brighter future for nations with our footprint.”

Bambo Akani the CEO/ Founder of MoC commended ND Western for working with MoC since 2017, a partnership he said has yielded great results. “We are excited about our partnership with ND Western as there is a need to encourage and support the pool of talents. The partnership is in line with our mission to raise champions for Nigeria and ND Western has displayed how truly it powers the nation by creating champions in the classroom and on the track. We are also optimistic that Maria and other beneficiaries will be recognized champions in Nigeria and the world.”

Maria Umoibang appreciates the timely support of ND Western and the difference it has made in her career.

Umoibang expressed her appreciation to ND Western for their timely intervention in her career and assured that she would live up to expectations as she  begins another phase of her life: “I can’t thank you enough, you are indeed family. It has been my dream to make my family proud, and you have put me on the right track to achieve this”, said Maria Umoibang.

The 18-year-old who arrived the US a few days ago, has reunited with her sister Mercy and is grateful for the opportunity to live her dreams. “I was very happy that South Plains gave me a full scholarship even though I didn’t run a lot this year. I am grateful and was really overwhelmed when I saw Mercy at the airport. I was glad to reunite with her in the States”, Umoibang added.

ND Western’s relationship with Making of Champions began in 2017 when they awarded Bowo Egbeyemi (right) a Student-Athlete Scholarship while studying for his Engineering degree at the University of Ibadan.

ND Western’s partnership with MoC dates back to 2017 — the Student-Athlete Scholarship is the first of its kind in Nigeria, awarding full Scholarships to talented teenagers in Nigerian Secondary Schools and Universities, many of whom have gone on to win National, Continental and Global medals, with several recipients earning US Collegiate Scholarships worth over $1 million combined to date.

About ND Western

ND Western is a major supplier of gas to the domestic market and the West African Sub-region which include Ghana, Lomé, and the Benin Republic via the West African Gas Pipeline. ND Western is on a mission to create shareholder value by providing clean energy through sustainable and strategic partnerships in communities they operate in, while adhering to international HSSE Standards and best practices.

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Yemi Galadima is a Senior Sportswriter and Editor at Making of Champions. She has a bias for Athletics and was previously a Sports Reporter at the National Mirror, where she hosted a weekly column ‘On the Track with Yemi Olus’ for over two years. A self-acclaimed ‘athletics junkie’, she has covered national and international events live, such as the African Athletics Championships, African Games and IAAF World Championships. She also freelances for World Athletics.

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