By Chinenye Anuforo, Lagos
Over 7,000 athletes and 500 schools are to compete for over 1,000 medals in the first edition of the Schools’ Athletics Championships, now renamed MTN CHAMPS.
The championship, which is sponsored by telecommunications giants MTN, is organised by the Making of Champions, in partnership with the Athletics Federation of Nigeria and the Nigeria School Sports Federation.
The competition, which is spread across three age brackets; the cadets (U-14), youth (U-17) and juniors (U-20), will be held in four cities across the country, Benin City, Ibadan, Uyo and Abuja.
At a press conference held in Lagos, the modalities for the historic initiative were shared with reporters by the organizers.
The championship is to be held from October 12 to 14 in Benin and in Uyo from October 26 to 28. In Ibadan, the MTN CHAMPS takes place from November 9 to 11, while in Abuja it will be held from November 29 to December 1, with the grand final in Abuja slated for December 2.
Speaking at the event, Chief Marketing Officer, MTN, Adia Showo, said the 10 best athletes from the championship would join the MoC Academy and would have the benefit of a structured training schedule, which would teach them the importance of discipline, time management and life skills.
“MTN is committed to Nigeria’s young people and what we are trying to do is power the dreams of these young people and provide them with the platform and technology that they need to take on the world.’’
MTN CHAMPS now joins the group of initiatives; we hope to provide our young athletes with the platform to shine as they learn life’s valuable skills: we hope that this initiative contributes to their overall well-being and success in life,” Showo said.
AFN President Tonobok Okowa expressed delight over the initiative stating that it will go a long way in bridging the gap in producing a pool of young athletes who would be well-positioned to take over from their older counterparts.
“I am the main beneficiary of this championship because there are no proper competitions for these age cadre and MoC has just rescued us from that challenge through the MTN CHAMPS.
“The athletes will look forward to these competitions and will train towards them because sometimes we lose the athletes between 15 and 18 because no good competitions to keep them going. We at the AFN will give the competition every support it needs.”
On his part, the founder, MoC, Bambo Akani, highlighted the benefits of staging the MTN CHAMPS and appreciated the efforts of all the bodies behind the initiative.
He said, “I am pleased that we now have MTN identifying with our efforts to take track and field to lofty heights in Nigeria. This is indeed a monumental turning point in our country’s history in school sports and in athletics. I have the conviction that MTN CHAMPS will unearth and foster athletics talents across the country.”
MOC Country Manager Deji Ogeyingbo unveiled the format for MTN CHAMPS, revealing that the competition would be spread across three age brackets: the Cadets (U-14), Youth (U-17), and Juniors (U-20).
He said 32 team titles are to be won across the four locations, eight in each, as MTN CHAMPS will run a team-based competition with team titles and trophies awarded to the best Boys’ and girls’ Schools/Teams in each age category.