MTN CHAMPS Launched Across Four Cities to Boost Track & Field in Nigeria  

MTN CHAMPS Launched Across Four Cities to Boost Track & Field in Nigeria  

Duro Ikhazuagbe 

Over 7000 athletes from 500 schools are to participate in the maiden edition of the Schools Athletics Championships, now renamed  the MTN Champs.

The championships tailored along the same path of the Jamaican schools athletics model that has unearthed the likes of Usain Bolt and several world-classed athletes, is expected to attract young athletes from across the country.

Over 1,000 medals and 32 school/team titles are at stake in the newly introduced competition expected to hold in four locations: Benin City, Uyo, Ibadan and Abuja.

Speaking at a media briefing to unveil the package at stake yesterday in Lagos,  officials from telecommunications giant MTN as its title sponsor, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and the Nigeria School Sport Federation (NSSF) in partnership with the organisers of the historic initiative, Making of Champions (MoC), revealed an elaborate plan to turnaround Nigeria’s fortunes in track and field.

AFN President, Tonobok  Okowa, harped on the need to produce a pool of young athletes who will be positioned to take over from their older counterparts, a gap MTN CHAMPS is poised to bridge.

“I am the main beneficiary of what is happening here today. When the older ones are fading out, what happens if you do not have the younger ones coming up? So, grassroots sports development is the key to success. 

“At the National Youth Games (NYG), the age bracket is between 12 to 15, but for those within ages 15 to 20, there are no proper competitions, and MoC have just rescued us from that challenge through the MTN CHAMPS. 

“I want to say thank you to MTN for the sponsorship, and thank you to MoC,” gushed the AFN chief.

Chief Marketing Officer  of MTN  Nigeria, Adia Sohwo, noted that MTN is proud to be associated with the vision of MTN CHAMPS as it really sits at the heart of what the brand stands for.

She said: “MTN is committed to Nigeria’s young people, and what we’re 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 have, and 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. 

Ms Sohwo further revealed that 10 best athletes discovered will join MoC Academy and have the benefits of a structured training schedule to take their career to another level.

“The 10 best athletes discovered from CHAMPS will join the MoC Academy and will have the benefit of a structured training schedule, which teaches them the importance of discipline, time management and valuable skills that they will be able to bring in sports and in life. 

“Also, MTN is committed to developmental sports not just for the accomplishment of individual goals, but for national aspirations as well, the discipline, the rigour and the passion is profitable for nation building which our beloved Nigeria needs,” she concluded.

Speaking on the format of the championships, MoC’s Country Manager, Deji Ogeyingbo, revealed that the competition would be spread across three age brackets: the Cadets (U-14), Youth (U-17) and Juniors (U-20). “32 team titles 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’ & Girls’ Schools/Teams in each age category. 

“Also, the Roster Athletics Competition Management App, which MoC is bringing to Nigeria for the first time, will be used to organise all aspects of the Championships, from online registration to publishing live all results and team scoring.”

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