During the opening day of the 83rd AIPS Congress at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest in Hungary, the Governor of Rivers State, Nigeria, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike took the stage to share his vision for a project he holds dear – the Real Madrid Academy based in his capital, Port Harcourt.
Wike, who is described by many in Nigeria as the “Sports Loving Governor” began his presentation by reflecting on the genesis of his relationship with AIPS. “My relationship with AIPS started in 2017 when the president of AIPS Africa Mitchell Obi led a delegation to pay a coutesy call to me in Port Harcourt where I was pronounced and subsequently honoured in 2018 with the Power of Sports award in recognition of our humble contribution to the development of sports in Rivers State. Since then we have continued to relate with the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), as well as the AIPS, to advance our mutual interest. AIPS is an organisation I hold in high regard, for its commitment, for the promotion and development of sports across the world.”
At the 81st AIPS Congress in Brussels two years ago in May, where Governor Wike was decorated with the AIPS Africa Power of Sports award, he gave a hint about his plan to build a Real Madrid Football Academy. Later, in the same month, AIPS President Gianni Merlo was invited to Nigeria to witness the laying of the project’s foundation on May 28, 2018 by the President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Ahmad Ahmad.
Governor Wike announced to this latest Congress in Budapest that the Academy has now been completed and commissioned in September 2019 and has already admitted its first set of students from a local youth team that won a national football championship. The facility can accommodate 500 boarding students, he added.
“It is true that the future of any country or society is revealed in the character and quality of its youths, but what the youths eventually become in life is also founded on the quality of education and skills they acquire to the age of responsitbility.
“Sports and education are both important and can co-exist as a medium to drive the development, character and prosperity of our youths; this was the motivation for the establishment of the Real Madrid Academy, Port Harcourt.
“Football, among other sports, presents itself as one of the best possible ways to raising generations of young people with character and determination to achieve outstanding results and prosperity,” Governor Wike stated.
He added: “The Real Madrid Academy is expected to foster youth development by nurturing and producing talented football players for the state as well as inculcating critical skills and life values that will benefit our youths beyond the football sphere. The academy is a legacy for Rivers State.”
While the Academy is focused on nurturing Rivers State-born talents majorly, Governor Wike made it clear that 30 percent of the academy’s admission slots will be reserved for the rest of Nigeria and Africa. In this way, the academy is also making an impact on the continent. WIke also assured that the academy will continue even after his tenure as governor has come to an end.
Kidnapped Nigerian Players Regain Freedom
Enyimba FC star, Dayo Ojo, and Abia Comet’s Benjamin Iluyomade who were kidnapped on Sunday have regained freedom.
Dayo and Benjamin, as reliably gathered were kidnapped while coming back from their teams camp on Sunday following the suspension of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) due to the outbreak of the COVID-19.
Enyimba FC in a statement informed that the players were abducted along the Benin-Owo Expressway but three days after, they were released.
” GREAT BIG NEWS!” the club also tweeted on their verified handle. “Our midfielder man, Dayo Ojo has regained freedom from his kidnappers” the club tweeted.
Their release followed combined efforts from the Aba-based club and their families.
The duo have been reunited with their families, the club’s statement further explained.
Ojo has seven caps for the Super Eagles and featured at the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) were Nigeria placed second.
COVID -19: Anthony Joshua goes into self-isolation after meeting Prince Charles
Following a meeting with coronavirus victim Prince Charles, the World heavyweight boxing champion, Anthony Joshua has placed himself in self-isolation.
Officials on Wednessday confirmed that Charles, the eldest son and heir to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, is showing mild symptoms of coronavirus and is self-isolating in Scotland.
Though, it remains unclear when Charles caught the illness but on March 9, he spent the day with the Queen, prime minister Boris Johnson and stars of sport and entertainment, including Joshua at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey.
“AJ is at home following government guidelines, he is fit and well. He wishes everyone affected a speedy recovery and a huge thank you to all the front line key workers”, Anthony Joshuah’s spokesman told the Daily Mail.
Joshua is due to defend his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles against mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on June 20.
But the coronavirus could delay that bout and push back a hugely anticipated all-British fight with WBC champion Tyson Fury until next year at the earliest.
In a series of Twitter posts on Tuesday, Joshua thanked all those involved in trying to combat the coronavirus by saying: “It’s humbling to see people giving their everything right now to keep us safe. Shout to everyone on the front-line.
“We see you, we appreciate you, we thank you and we’re in awe of you!”
Drogba scores big tourism win for Côte d’Ivoire
International soccer star Didier Drogba has helped his birthplace, Côte d’Ivoire, strike gold by helping to collect MOUs for a total of $15 billion in commitments to back tourism projects in the west African country.
The breakthrough comes ahead of the UNWTO Forum for Africa, which will take place in Abidjan next week (February 20-22) and the influential Forum de l’Investissement Hotelier Africain (FIHA), which takes place in Abidjan next month (March 23 – 25). FIHA is known for its ability to link up the new investors with developers, consultants, contractors, hoteliers and political leaders.
The former Chelsea striker – and now UN world tourism ambassador – was part of a successful global push to promote the rising success and attractiveness of Côte d’Ivoire’s tourist economy. The country boasts a GDP growth rate of about 8% in 2019 and, as a destination, it’s in third place in Sub-Saharan Africa, with 2 million international visitors, behind South Africa and Zimbabwe, ahead of Uganda, Botswana, Kenya or Mauritius (according to UNWTO 2018 data).
Matthew Weihs, Managing Director, Bench Events, which organises FIHA, said: “This is an extraordinary and impressive effort by Côte d’Ivoire; and it makes this year’s Forum particularly interesting because the funding commitments are in place and the task now is to make projects happen.” Last year’s successful FIHA in Marrakech attracted 300 delegates from 28 countries.
Under the banner, Sublime Côte d’Ivoire, Didier Drogba was a key player in a team of top Ivorian business and political leaders, as well as showbusiness figures, who took a roadshow to Dubai and Hamburg. They returned with more than 15 billion dollars of funding commitments for a variety of tourism projects, from hotels, to resorts and coastline development. All the backers have been invited to attend FIHA.
Philippe Doizelet, Managing Partner of Horwath HTL, the world’s largest and most experienced hospitality consultants, has been guiding Côte d’Ivoire’s efforts. He said: “It’s a blank page that the industry can write on in the most exciting way. Much has to be built – hotels alongside cultural centres and conference facilities, among other things. The amazing coastline offers great ‘bleisure’ (a mix of business and leisure) opportunities. Beyond Abidjan; Boulay island, Bassam and Jacqueville are currently the most promising locations.” He sees the greatest potential in ‘mixed-use’ projects, combining leisure, office and retail units with hospitality, in particular, branded 2-star & 3-star hotels and extended stay apartments.
Leading the country’s ambition to make tourism one of the main pillars of the economy, is Tourism Minister Siandou Fofana. Described by Philippe Doizelet as “visionary and deeply committed. He works hard to bring people together and attracts the best experts.”
Bench Events, Managing Director, Matthew Weihs concluded: “FIHA and its affiliated event, the Africa Hotel Investment Forum, are central to driving investments in regional hotel and mixed-use projects. The events connect key international and regional stakeholders, private and institutional investors to the hotel developers and operators that are fuelling the growth of the hotel industry across the continent. The projects that are promoted and funded at FIHA drive investments in tourism, stimulate economic growth in regional markets, create jobs and encourage much needed infrastructure.”
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