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Canoeing: Stakeholders harp on grassroots development of sport in Nigeria

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Rowing, Canoeing and Sailing enthusiasts have advocated more development of the sport at the grassroots in the country.

A cross section of the enthusiasts who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the end of the 1st African Admiral Porbeni Canoe Race championships in Abuja, commended the organisers of the event.

The championships also served as an Olympics pre-qualifier event, ahead of the main qualifying tournament in November.

No fewer than 100 athletes from five African countries – Ghana, Senegal, Sao Tome and Principe, Togo and host Nigeria – took part in the event which held at the Jabi Boat Club, Abuja.

They said there was a need to continue to organise more of such events in other parts of the country, to ensure the sport’s development at the grassroots.

President, International Canoe Federation (ICF) Thomas Konietzko expressed satisfaction at the quality of the event, adding that he was impressed with the number of talents available in the country.

“I think we have so many talented athletes here in Nigeria and this competition has proven that African organisers are able to organise Canoe competitions on a very professional level.

“We have to develop sports in Africa and as a first important step, we need more regional competitions here.

“The lack of equipment is also another important issue and we have had meaningful discussions with the Federation on how we can help to engage more kids in the sport.

“With time, more African athletes will pick interest in the sport and even go ahead to qualify and compete for medals at the Olympic games,” he said.

Joao Afonso, 1st Vice President of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) said there was a need to create opportunities to discover and develop talents in the sport.

Afonso noted that more than 60 per cent of the African population were youths, adding that ANOCA was working hard to create conditions for them to practise and keep themselves busy with the sport.

“We have to change our African mentality because here we believe that the only sport existing is football.

“So, there is a need to change the narrative.

“We have a total of 42 sports at the Olympics, of which football is just one out of so many others,” he said.

Habu Gumel, President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) said the federation had the capacity to develop the sport at the grassroots, especially with the vast waterways and talents that abound in the country.

“It is very important to develop the sport at the grassroots and we have a lot of waterways and talents scattered everywhere in the country.

“We are in discussion with both the ICF president as well as other international organisations to provide the federation with more equipment.

“We from the NOC will continue to give them all the necessary support so they can be able to excel,” he said.

Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Emmanuel Ogalla said he was happy that the event was the first of its kind, adding that he would like to see more editions in the years ahead.

He also stressed the need to schedule the event in other parts of the country to bring it closer to the reach of all Nigerians, especially at the grassroots.

“We thank our retired Admiral Porbeni for keeping the flag flying for all these years. He has indeed been representing us well in the sport.

“Rowing, Canoeing and Sailing is a principal sport in the Nigerian Navy and that is why we have taken it as part of our own responsibilities.

“We also know that sport is very important for youth development as it keeps them busy and fit so they can contribute meaningfully to national development.

“The Nigerian Navy will continue to give all the necessary support that is required to keep the federation running,” he said.

Festus Porbeni, President of the Rowing, Canoeing and Sailing Federation, said the idea to organise the event came from his desire to ensure that the sport was developed at the grassroots.

“I found out that Nigeria was good in rowing theoretically but we were not practising it as much.

“So, I had to engage all stakeholders of the sport to ensure that we get fully involved in the sport.

“We now have boats here and manufacture them locally in Nigeria. It is a very good thing rather than importing from abroad,” he said.

He said the tournament helped the federation to discover new talents, adding that there were plans to expand as time went on.

“We want to ensure that we develop the sport at the grassroots, that’s why we organised it in Jos, Lagos, Imo and now Abuja.

“So, we are trying to project it as much as possible; anywhere there is a body of water in any part of the country we will explore the possibility of hosting the event there,” he said.

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Napoli Sack Rudi Garcia, Announce Mazzarri As Replacement

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Serie A giants Napoli have announced the departure of coach Rudi Garcia after a poor spell and announced his successor with immediate effect

Reigning Serie A champions Napoli have announced the departure of French manager Rudi Garcia after a poor run of form that sees the Partenopei handing on to faint hopes of defending the Scudetto title won last season.

Napoli have only claimed one win in their last four matches in all competitions, trailing Serie A leaders Inter by 10 points while also trailing Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League by five points.

Osimhen gets new coach as Napoli reportedly appoint Walter Mazzarri to replace Rudi Garcia

With the Partenopei looking a lot worse than they did at this stage last season, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has chosen to act swiftly before things get out of hand.

The club chief revealed that Garcia had been relieved of his duty, after posting a message on social media platform X to announce the arrival of the Frenchman’s replacement.

Napoli announce Garcia successor
That replacement is a former Napoli manager Walter Mazzarri[url][/url], who was welcomed back to the club by De Laurentiis, who was also the owner during his last spell at the club.

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Wherever I went, people abused me every day, spat at me – David Beckham reveals how his 1998 World Cup red card still hurts

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Football icon, David Beckham has laid bare the lingering pain he felt he caused his family following the red card he received at the 1998 World Cup, saying his dismissal left him a “mess.”

This was revealed in a new Netflix documentary series entitled “Beckham”, set for release on Wednesday, October 4 in which the ex-Manchester, PSG and Real Madrid midfielder looks back on his career.

Beckham, now 48 and the co-owner of MLS franchise Inter Miami, was sent off for kicking the back of Diego Simeone’s leg during a last-16 World Cup tie against Argentina.

England went on to lose the match following a penalty shoot-out, with Beckham widely blamed for the defeat with rival fans repeatedly jeering him when in action for Manchester United during the following season.

In the documentary, his wife, Victoria Beckham said the continued abuse left her husband “absolutely clinically depressed” as the then 23-year-old tried to deal with the fallout alongside becoming a father for the first time in March 1999.

Beckham admitted the abuse “took a toll on me that I never knew myself”.

He said: “I wish there was a pill you could take which could erase certain memories. I made a stupid mistake. It changed my life.

“We were in America (on holiday after the World Cup), just about to have our first baby, and I thought, ‘we will be fine. In a day or two people will have forgotten’.”

“I don’t think I have ever talked about it, just because I can’t. I find it hard to talk through what I went through because it was so extreme.

“Wherever I went, I got abused every single day — to walk down the street and to see people look at you in a certain way, spit at you, abuse you, come up to your face and say some of the things they said, that is difficult.

“I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t sleeping. I was a mess. I didn’t know what to do.”

“It brought a lot of attention that I would never wish on anyone, let alone my parents, and I can’t forgive myself for that.

“That is the tough part of what happened, because I was the one that made the mistake.

“It is only now that I am 47 years old, it is now that I beat myself up about it (still).”

Beckham’s wife also received abuse while attending football matches to support her husband.

“As horrible as it was to look up to Victoria in the stand (getting that abuse), it was the one thing which spurred me on,” he said.

But the 1998/99 season ended in triumph on the field, with a United side managed by Alex Ferguson winning a remarkable treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, with the European triumph sealed by two stunning goals in stoppage time in the final against Bayern Munich.

Beckham’s former United and England team-mate Gary Neville, who is part of the producers of the documentary, recalled how the pair were “absolutely destroying teams” down the right flank for United.

Neville said: I was supporting him in a way which was to be fair, I would say I was a side dish really. Not the beef. I was the mustard on the side.”

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