Saturday, 25 May 2024.

Top 5 This Week

Related News

MTN CHAMPS S2: 2,300 young athletes battle for 12 spots in Calabar

By Frank Ulom

2,300 young athletes are set to battle out for 12 spots for the MTN CHAMPS Season 2 grand finale holding from 30th April to 3rd May 2024, at the UJ Esuene Stadium in Calabar, Cross River State capital.

CONVERSEER learned that the 2,300 athletes were selected from Asaba, Ibadan, Jos and Calabar, and are to compete for a chance to be selected into the MTN Academic in Lagos. They are expected to cover the full breadth of Track & Field Events and will be grouped into cadet, youth and junior categories.

The 2,300 will be joined by 70 MVP (Most Valuable Player) Athletes from Season 1, made up of 50 Sprinters (100m, 200m, 110m Hurdles), 16 Quater-Milers (400m, with some also doing 200m or 800m), two Middle Distancers (1,500m) and two Field Event Athletes (a Long Jumper and a Thrower who competes in all the Throws offered – Discus, Shot Put and Javelin).

Speaking during a press conference held in Calabar on Monday, 29th April, the Chief Marketing Officer of MTN Nigeria, Adia Sowho, said Calabar was picked for this year’s grand finale due to its rich sporting heritage, stressing that a daughter of Calabar is the longest-serving and current national team athlete and multiple champions in 400m over the last decade.

“Her name is Patience Okon George. She competed at the MTN CHAMPS in Asaba to qualify and represent Nigeria at the African Games in March, where she won double gold in women’s 4 x 400 mix. We’ve come a long way since the inception of MTN CHAMPS,” she said.

Sowho added “Season 1 was extraordinary. We’ve been to seven cities in Nigeria. In season 1 we were in four locations – Benin, Uyo, Ibadan and Abuja, where 7,000 athletes from 375 schools registered and participated, showing their power, their grace and their unwavering determination to win.

“Season 2 has already surpassed Season 1 in many ways. Over 8,000 registered for the tournament with 2,300 registering for this Calabar event alone. In Asaba, we partnered with the AFN for the national trials and 90 athletes sponsored by MTN competed, and 31 were selected to represent Nigeria at the African Games in Ghana, and we won 14 medals.

“The Ibadan edition hosted the first ever MTN CHAMPS continental relays where athletes from five countries across West Africa participated, and we had five MTN CHAMPS who represented Nigeria and won medals as well for us. So as we stand on the precipice of this grand finale, we are filled with only pride and excitement. Calabar holds a special place in the history of athletics and we are happy to be here. We will witness the culmination of months of hard work, dedication and sacrifice for Season 2.

“70 athletes selected from the previous four locations will participate in the grand finale as team MVP. The top 12 from Season 2 will join the Making Of Champions Academy by September 2024, bringing the grand total of athletes to 24 in the academy. And this grand finale is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of our athletes, our coaches and our organisers.”

MTN CHAMPS S2: 2,300 young athletes battle for 12 spots in Calabar
L-R: Brands, Media and Sponsorship, MTN Nigeria – Friday Okuwe; Permanent Secretary, Cross River State Ministry of Youths – Mr Samuel Egbala; Director of Administration, Cross River State Ministry of Education – Mr Augustine Odey (representing the Commissioner for Education, Senator Stephen Odey); Vice-President of the Nigeria School Sports Federation (NSSF) – Pastor Emmanuel Ebong (representing the President, Olabisi Joseph); Cross River State Commissioner for Sports Development – Hon. Agnes Atsu; MTN’s Chief Marketing Officer – Adia Sowho; Special Adviser to the Governor on Sports Development – Hon. Ekanem Ekpenyong; Making of Champions Founder – Bambo Akani; Chief Information Officer, MTN Nigeria – Shoyinka Shodunke; MTN’s General Manager, Brand and Communications, Marketing Division – Emamoke Ogoro; The Managing Director (MD), Cross River State Tourism Bureau – Mr Ojoi Ekpenyong; MTN’S General Manager, Regional Operations East Region, Sales and Distribution – Callima Inino; during a press conference in Calabar on 29th April 2024.

Speaking also at the press conference, Bambo Akani, Founder/CEO of Making Of Champions (MOC) and initiator of MTN CHAMPS, thanked MTN, Cross River State Government, Nigeria School Sports Federation (NSSF), Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN) for their partnership in making the Season 2 of that MTN CHAMPS a reality.

Akani said he bought the idea for the Track & Field from Jamaica, 11 years ago, and hoped the talents that will be discovered at the event will represent Nigeria at the 2028 Olympics.

READ ALSO: Gov Otu’s Vision for Tertiary Education in C’River: A Commendable Approach

“I went to Jamaica 11 years ago now, I saw their champs and I realised that there’s something that had to happen in Nigeria. Now at about six months, we are at the culmination of Season 2. Eight events in seven different cities. We had 375 schools in Season 1, we’ve now exceeded that in Season 2 – over 400 schools,” said.

“The 70 team MVP and the 2,300 other athletes who will be in Calabar this week, will all be fighting for a place at the Making Of Champions Athletic Academy. MTN has been so gracious enough to sponsor 12 athletes from Season 1 and another 12 from Season 2 at the academy.

“We broke ground in the academy last week. The first athletes from Season 1 have joined and moved to one of the top private secondary schools in Lagos to be part of the academy. We are excited to see the possibility of lives changing.

“I think we’ve unlocked something very special in Nigeria and I have no doubt that there will be many athletes discovered here that will represent Nigeria at the 2028 Olympics in the next four years,” Akani added.

On her part, the Cross River State Commissioner for Sports Development, Hon. Agnes Atsu assured the organisers of a serene environment, adequate facilities and a hitch-free competition, stressing that “We have one of the best facilities in this country for Track & Field.

“I want to promise you that the Cross River State Government is giving you all the support. We promise you a very serene environment, we promise you a hitch-free competition, and we hope to do much more than this with you.”

The State Commissioner for Education, Senator Stephen Odey, who was represented by Mr Augustine Odey, Director of Administration in the Ministry, said “For the MTN CHAMPS, I want to assure you that we’ve mobilised all the students for this competition. We are behind you and you’ll feel us adequately at the stadium.”

Meanwhile, the President of the Nigeria School Sports Federation (NSSF), Olabisi Joseph, who was also represented by the Vice President, Pastor Emmanuel Ebong, said, “Marrying education with sport as a sustainable bedrock for development is what we preach.”

Adding, “When we brought National School Sports to Calabar in 2011, Tobi Amusan was representing a school in Lagos, and today, she’s a world record holder.

“Calabar won in 2011 in Calabar, in 2012 in Rivers and 2013 in Kwara – Cross River is synonymous with sport. So, NSSF is ready and ever ready to provide the manpower.”

CONVERSEER gathered that over 300 medals will be awarded, MVPs will be selected as well, and those who won’t make the top 12 will have another chance in the next season.

More about the MTN CHAMPS Season 2

  • Venue: UJ Esuene Stadium, Calabar, Cross River State.
  • Date: 30th April – 3rd May 2024
  • Time: 9:00 AM daily
Frank Ulom
Frank Ulom
Frank Ulom is an experienced Journalist, Blogger and Writer with several years of experience. His stories are based on community development and have brought positive change across board.

Latest News