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Football Stakeholders commit to FIFA’s new initiatives for talent discovery

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There was palpable enthusiasm and avowed commitment to new initiatives on talent discovery and nurturing as a stakeholder workshop on FIFA Talent Development Scheme took Nigeria’s federal capital, Abuja by storm on Thursday.

NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi opened the workshop by expounding on the theme, saying the FIFA Talent Development Scheme is designed to discover football talents from the grassroots, which is truly a key component of the vision of the Ibrahim Musa Gusau-led NFF administration. “This is a welcome development for Federations like our own that are interested in growing the game from the grassroots. This workshop has the objective of enlightening all stakeholders on the scheme and to let them know the various aspects in which they have to support the Federation and where the Federation will support them.”

Dignitaries and stakeholders included a representative of Sports Development Minister, Senator John Enoh; Director General of the National Institute for Sports, Professor Olawale Morounkola; Member of the House Committee on Sports, Hon. Aminu Balele Kurfi; President of the NFF, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau; NFF’s two vice presidents Chief Felix Anyansi Agwu and Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye; Chairman of NFF Technical Committee, Alhaji Sharif Rabiu Inuwa; former NFF Board Member, High Chief Emeka Inyama; representatives of chairmen of the Senate Committee on Sports in both houses of the National Assembly; chairmen and secretaries of the State Football Associations; NFF Management and Staff; eminent coaches; former Nigeria international players including Dr. Olusegun Odegbami; former General Secretaries of the NFF Ambassador Fanny Amun and Barr. Musa Amadu; chieftains of the various Leagues; Super Falcons’ captain Onome Ebi; proprietors of leading football academies; sports marketing gurus and; prominent media personalities.

Gusau used the opportunity to espouse his Vision 2030 with so much passion and assurance, and charged the stakeholders that they no longer have any option than to do the hard lifting of discovering talent from the grassroots and nurturing them, with world football-governing body, FIFA’s decision to organize annually the FIFA U17 World Cup (male and female) from the year 2025.

“You can now see that we have no alternative to doing the hard work, and to do the work we have been elected to do with great energy, enthusiasm and diligence. The ethos of discipline, dedication and integrity must be enthroned, and we must commit to eliminating the scourge of age cheating at youth level.”

FIFA High Performance specialists Abdul Faisal Chibsah and Amit Desai expatiated further on the scheme, and pledged that FIFA will monitor the scheme globally for sincerity, credibility and sustainability.

NFF Technical Director and former Nigeria captain and coach, Augustine Eguavoen, explained the NFF’s long-term talent discovery plan and its strategic focus areas.

Odegbami, as well as Professor Morounkola, Coaches Isah Ladan Bosso and Sam John Obuh as well as former NFF scribes Amun and Amadu reported the positions of breakout groups, with emphasis on discovering truly young talents that will be nurtured through a sustainable process to keep Nigeria at the top of the global tree in U17 football.

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2024 Olympic Qualifier: Super Falcons will beat Cameroon in Abuja — Waldrum

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Super Falcons head coach, Randy Waldrum is confident his side will get the job done against Cameroon in Abuja on Monday.

The nine-time African champions held the Indomitable Lionesses to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their 2024 Olympic Games third-round qualifying fixture in Douala on Friday.

Jennifer Echegini’s 52nd-minute strike was controversially ruled out for offside in the game.

“We don’t fear anybody,” Waldrum said after the game.

“We played the European champions (England) to penalty kicks in the World Cup and held the Olympic gold medalist (Canada) to a draw at the World Cup, we got a victory over Australia. We can play with the best teams in the world.

“I give credit to Cameroon for the job they did. But there is no fear on our part.”

Victory against Cameroon will see the Super Falcons face either African champions, South Africa or Tanzania in the final round.

South Africa defeated Tanzania 3-0 in the first leg on Friday.

 

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CAF Confederation Cup: Rivers United arrive Luanda for Academica do Lobito clash

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Rivers United have arrived in Angola for the CAF Confederation Cup matchday five clash against Academica Petroleos Clube do Lobito.

The former Nigeria Premier Football League champions arrived in Luanda in the early hours of Saturday.

The Pride of Rivers departed the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos on Friday night.

Rivers United will lock horns with Academica Petroleos Clube do Lobito at the Estádio 11 de Novembre on Sunday.

Stanley Eguma’s side defeated the same opponent 3-0 on matchday one at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo.

Academica Petroleos Lobito are yet to record a point in four matches.

Rivers United are third on the Group C table with six points.

 

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Kenya bids farewell to marathon sensation Kiptum

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Top athletes and dignitaries joined hundreds of mourners at the funeral on Friday of Kenya’s world marathon record-holder Kelvin Kiptum in the nation’s athletics heartland where he was born, trained and died.

Kiptum, a 24-year-old father of two, was killed in a late-night car crash on February 11, just months after shattering the marathon record in Chicago.

Kiptum’s wife, Asenath Rotich, was overcome with emotion as she read a tearful tribute to the marathon prodigy.

“It’s unbelievable that today I have learnt to stay with our beloved kids without you coming home again,” she said, revealing that the couple had planned to hold a wedding ceremony in April.

“I will still make my vows of love even in your rest.”

Although Kiptum only competed in three marathons, he won all of the races, posting three of the seven fastest times in history for the event.

Coe said his death was “a cause of intense sadness” and eulogised the young athlete for scaling “the highest peaks of achievement” during his short life.

“Rest assured your achievements are treasured, indelible and secure in the annals of our history and never ever forgotten,” the athletics chief said.

‘Worked against odds’

Kiptum ran the Chicago race in October in two hours and 35 seconds, slicing 34 seconds off the previous fastest time set by his Kenyan rival, the marathon legend Eliud Kipchoge.

His sudden death has left Kenya, and the wider athletics community, reeling.

Ruto said the East African nation had seen “the future of athletics” in Kiptum.

“He had more reasons not to succeed than to succeed but he worked against the odds,” he said, describing his death as “a very heavy moment”.

Mourners started arriving at the funeral venue at dawn, some wearing black T-shirts with a picture of Kiptum emblazoned across the front.

They viewed the body, laid out in a half-open casket on a red carpet, as a choir sang hymns.

Four giant screens were mounted to stream the event for the many villagers gathered outside the venue.

Dozens of athletes including 1,500m record-holder Faith Kipyegon and two-time Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha knelt in prayer near Kiptum’s casket before showering it with pink and white rose petals.

Neighbours described the star athlete as a “very generous man”.

“In his short life as an athlete, he’s helped in funding (the) education of some of the children at (his alma mater) the Chepsamo primary school,” neighbour Jackson Komen told AFP.

“He was so down-to-earth that when he had broken the world record he would still join his friends at the Chepkorio centre to play pool,” Komen added.

Candlelight vigil

Hundreds of people had turned out Thursday as Kiptum’s coffin was taken from the Rift Valley town of Eldoret to his home village of Chepkorio.

Hundreds of mourners also joined a solemn candlelight vigil in the nation’s capital Nairobi on Thursday, paying an emotional tribute to the rising star who had been the overwhelming favourite for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

After the funeral ceremony, Kiptum will be laid to rest in Naiberi, near Eldoret, where the government has built a new home for the family of the national hero.

Police said Kiptum was driving near Eldoret at around 11:00 pm on February 11 when his car careered off the road into a ditch and hit a tree.

Kenya’s chief government pathologist, Johansen Oduor, said on Wednesday an autopsy found Kiptum had suffered severe head injuries.

Toxicology tests were still under way, he added.

Kiptum’s Rwandan coach Gervais Hakizimana, 36, also died in the crash.

Hakizimana, who had trained Kiptum since 2019, was laid to rest in the Rwandan capital Kigali on Wednesday.

Known for maintaining a gruelling training schedule that sometimes topped 300 kilometres (190 miles) a week, Kiptum had recently announced he was hoping to smash the mythic two-hour mark at the Rotterdam Marathon in April.

 

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