MTN CHAMPS: A New Era of School Athletics in Nigeria

The first edition of the MTN CHAMPS, a school athletics championship aimed at discovering and nurturing the next generation of Nigerian track and field stars, has kicked off across four cities in the country. Over 7,000 athletes from 500 schools are expected to participate in the competition, which will run from October 12 to December 1, 2023. The athletes will compete for over 1,000 medals and 32 school/team titles in various events, ranging from sprints to jumps to throws.

The MTN CHAMPS is an initiative of Making of Champions (MoC), a sports media and management company that has been at the forefront of grassroots sports development in Nigeria. The championship secured telecommunications giant MTN as its title sponsor, with the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and the Nigeria School Sport Federation (NSSF) also partnering with MoC to ensure a hitch-free and successful event.

MTN CHAMPS: A New Era of School Athletics in Nigeria
MTN CHAMPS: A New Era of School Athletics in Nigeria

The championship is modeled after the Jamaican schools athletics system, which has produced world-class athletes such as Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson-Herah. The aim is to provide a platform for young Nigerian athletes to showcase their talents, learn valuable skills and get exposure to opportunities that can transform their lives and careers.

Four Zones, Four Venues

The MTN CHAMPS will take place in four zones across the country, each hosting a three-day event at a designated venue. The zones and venues are as follows:

  • South-South Zone: Benin City (Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium), October 12-14
  • South-East Zone: Uyo (Godswill Akpabio Stadium), October 26-28
  • South-West Zone: Ibadan (Lekan Salami Stadium), November 9-11
  • North-Central Zone: Abuja (Moshood Abiola Stadium), November 29-December 1

Each zone will feature schools from the states within that region, as well as invited schools from other zones. The schools will compete in four categories: Junior Boys, Junior Girls, Senior Boys and Senior Girls. The junior category is for athletes aged 15 and below, while the senior category is for athletes aged 16 to 20.

The events to be contested are: 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 3000m, 100m hurdles, 110m hurdles, 400m hurdles, high jump, long jump, triple jump, shot put, discus throw, javelin throw and 4x100m relay.

Top Ten Athletes to Join MoC Academy

One of the major attractions of the MTN CHAMPS is the opportunity for the top ten athletes to join the MoC Academy, a full-time training program that provides scholarships, coaching, mentoring and education for talented young athletes. The MoC Academy has produced several national and international medalists, such as Joy Udo-Gabriel, Emmanuel Ojeli, Favour Ofili and Ruth Usoro.

The top ten athletes will be selected based on their performances at the MTN CHAMPS, as well as their potential and attitude. They will undergo a rigorous screening process that will include physical tests, medical examinations and interviews. They will also have to meet the academic requirements of the MoC Academy, which include passing the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) or its equivalent.

The selected athletes will join the existing MoC Academy students in Lagos or Port Harcourt, where they will train under experienced coaches and have access to world-class facilities. They will also receive academic support and guidance from qualified teachers and tutors. They will be sponsored by MTN for their tuition fees, accommodation, feeding, transportation and other expenses.

Stakeholders Hail MTN CHAMPS as a Game Changer

The launch of the MTN CHAMPS has been greeted with enthusiasm and optimism by various stakeholders in the Nigerian sports sector. They have hailed the championship as a game changer that will boost the development of athletics in the country and produce future champions for Nigeria.

The Chief Marketing Officer of MTN Nigeria, Adia Sowho, said that MTN is proud to be associated with the vision of MTN CHAMPS as it aligns with the brand’s commitment to empowering young Nigerians and providing them with platforms and technology to achieve their dreams.

“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,” she said.

The President of the AFN, Chief Tonobok Okowa, commended MoC for initiating the MTN CHAMPS and thanked MTN for sponsoring the championship. He said that the AFN is fully supportive of the project and will ensure that the best athletes are identified and nurtured for national and international competitions.

“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,” he said.

The Vice President of the NSSF, Emmanuel Ebong, also expressed his delight at the MTN CHAMPS and said that it will complement the efforts of the NSSF in promoting school sports in Nigeria. He said that the NSSF will mobilize schools across the country to participate in the championship and ensure that the athletes are properly registered and verified.

“We are very happy to be part of this historic event. The NSSF is the umbrella body for school sports in Nigeria, and we have been working hard to revive school sports in the country. The MTN CHAMPS is a welcome development that will enhance our work and provide more opportunities for our young athletes. We will ensure that we get as many schools as possible to register for this championship and we will also ensure that we verify the ages and eligibility of the athletes,” he said.

The Chairman of MoC, Engr. Olu Akani, thanked MTN, AFN and NSSF for their partnership and support for the MTN CHAMPS. He said that MoC is passionate about creating a sustainable system for athletics development in Nigeria and hopes that the MTN CHAMPS will be a catalyst for positive change in the sport.

“We are very excited to launch the MTN CHAMPS, which is a culmination of our vision to create a platform for school athletics in Nigeria. We believe that this championship will not only discover and nurture new talents, but also inspire and motivate millions of young Nigerians to embrace athletics as a sport and a career. We are grateful to MTN for their sponsorship, which has made this possible, and we appreciate the AFN and NSSF for their collaboration and cooperation. We look forward to a successful and memorable championship,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *