After making stops in Benin and Uyo respectively, the MTN CHAMPS train has arrived the ancient city of Ibadan, Oyo State, for the third leg of the nationwide series of the secondary school Athletics Championships, which received nearly 4000 event entries from about 2000 Athletes.
At a press briefing held in Ibadan on Wednesday, November 8th, to herald the event which kicks off on Thursday, November 9th, several stakeholders pledged their support to ensure a hitch-free competition.
Some of the dignitaries at the event included Ifeanyi Udom, MTN’s Senior Manager, Sales and Trade Development, South West; Njide Ken-Odogwu, Manager, Sponsorships, MTN; Raheem Fatai, Director of Sports Facilities at the Oyo State Sport Council; Olujimi Kehinde Eyiomo, Acting Director of Sports, University of Ibadan, and Akinosun Sunday Ezekiel from the Ministry of Education, Oyo State.
Others are Segun Omodunni, Secretary, Athletics Committee, Nigeria School Sports Federation (NSSF); Taldang Tanimu, Assistant Secretary Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN); Olympic Medallist Deji Aliu, Nationwide Meet Director, MTN CHAMPS, and sprinter Enoch Adegoke who is the MTN CHAMPS Ambassador for Ibadan.
In his welcome address, Fatai, who represented the Oyo State Sport Commissioner, Hon. Wasilat Adegoke, assured of the state government’s co-operation and support to ensure that the competition is a huge success.
In her speech, Udom, who spoke on behalf of the sponsors, said: “This championship was established as a national development intervention to unearth and groom future talent that would put Nigeria on the world stage. It also fosters brand loyalty by supporting the strong desire of young Nigerians to excel both in academics and sports.
“Sponsoring this competition by MTN is consistent with the brand’s history of supporting and grooming local sports activities as evident in MTN’s various sponsorship activities. MTN’s involvement in Athletics will no doubt produce a new breed of athletes that will beam the Nigerian flag on the world stage in order to make Athletics the second synonymous sport in the minds of Nigerians.”
NSSF’s representative, Omodunni highlighted the importance of partnering with MoC to stage a competition of this magnitude.
He said: “We appreciate MTN and MoC for the good job they’re doing. We’re partnering with MoC by mobilising the schools and you can see by the huge entries received the need for more competitions. MTN has taken a step, so I appeal to other organisations to also step in so that our students are happy and also useful to the country.”
AFN’s Representative, Tanimu reaffirmed the federation’s commitment in providing technical support required for the competition and would make adjustments and improvements where necessary.
Making of Champion’s Country Manager Deji Ogeyingbo highlighted the importance of moving across the country in the quest to discover and groom talents that could make the nation proud in future. He noted that the competition is recognised by World Athletics as all times recorded are registered on the World Athletics database, and would cater to three age categories: Cadets (U-14, Youth (U-17) and Juniors (U-20).
Tokyo Olympics finalist and MTN CHAMPS Ambassador for Ibadan, Enoch Adegoke appreciated the efforts of MTN and MoC in staging the competition in his home state and implored stakeholders on the need to help catch these talents while they’re very young, noting that a competition of this magnitude is of great benefit to Athletics in Nigeria and the start of better things to come.
In her closing remarks, Ken-Odogwu stated that MTN sponsors several sporting activities, but with Athletics, MTN CHAMPS would discover, harness and showcase the untapped talents for the betterment of the country.
In an unprecedented move, MTN CHAMPS Ibadan will hold simultaneously across two locations – at the Lekan Salami Stadium on November 9th to 11th, for the Youth & Junior events as well as the Finals, and now also the University of Ibadan Sports Complex simultaneously on November 9th and 10th for the Cadet 100m, 200m, 400m and 4x100m Heats, and the Cadet 100m semifinals.