Handball is one of the lesser-known sports in Nigeria, but that doesn’t mean it’s not making strides. Cosmos Chukwuemeka, the media assistant to the President of the Handball Federation of Nigeria, Samuel Ocheho, spoke to Ademola Kadiri in a revealing interview about several issues.
The excerpts are below:
Could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Cosmos Chukwuemeka and I am the media assistant to the president of the Nigerian Handball Federation. I am also a broadcast journalist with LASU Radio where I head the Sports Unit.
We normally don’t hear a lot about the Handball Federation. What could be responsible for this?
Basically, that has to do with the sporting culture of the country. Football is the king of all sports. Everybody loves football. That has to do with the systemic disparity that keeps football ahead of other sports.
The disparity is like the sun and moon; that’s how far they are from each other. It also has to do with structure, talents and inadequacy of facilities; funding is also a big elephant in the room. Football gets 80% of the chunk while the other federations share the remaining 20%.
It’s not only about publicity. Funding also fuels publicity. All of these are the big issues. Policy defects have affected sports, in general. It is not because other sports are not trying, it is because of the defective policy and the challenges that come with it. It is basically systemic.
How does the Federation source for funds?
When the present president came on board, the sport was almost in comatose. They were not attending competitions and grassroots competitions were not being organized. In the 80s, Nigeria used to be the king of handball, but in the 90s, everything fell like a pack of cards because of a whole lot of issues, mainly maladministration.
But then, Samuel Ocheho came in. He’s someone that played the sport, and as a corporate person, he understood how to drive the sport. The first thing he did was to secure the sponsorship for the league, and that was how Prudent Energy came on board. Prudent Energy and Services Limited is an energy company that sponsors the league for about 4 years now. The first phase of the league will come up in May while the second phase comes up in October.
He also ensured that there is level playing ground for individuals that want to put in their money to develop handball. Since 2018, since he became president, there have been many national and international competitions. Apart from the fact that he puts in his own money, which shows his passion, he and the Board have been able to bring a lot of attraction to the sport, so much that handball can now compete with basketball for relevance.
Do the sponsors get value for money to expand the scope of their sponsorship?
Prudent Energy has expanded the scope of its sponsorship twice in 4 years. They are getting the dividends of their investment in the league. When they started in 2018, they got bigger and bigger. Like most energy companies, people might not know about them. They came in and a lot of people started knowing about them and started understanding what they really do.
They came into the league, and it was a big gain for handball to be able to get Prudent Energy, and the dividends for them has been massive. They have leveraged it and everyone now knows that the National Premier Handball League is sponsored by them.
At the point of the lockdown last season caused by Covid-19, they gave out palliatives to all the teams in the league, the players, and even the referees. If they were not getting Return on Investment, they wouldn’t do that at all.
What will you recommend for improving the perception of handball in Nigeria?
It’s a world of technology, and we are trying our best in that regard. We are on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We churn out content every other time, giving updates about the league, and other competitions we participate in. We stream matches live, so we are trying our best to improve the perception and publicity. We also have some media partners that have been with us from day 1.
They help in propagating the good work that the Handball Federation of Nigeria is doing for the growth and development of the sport in the country. Interviews like this also help, but ultimately, what we seek is for handball to go back to the grassroots, which is the fastest possible way to grow the sport.
Jose Mourinho announced as Roma’s new head coach
Top Italian football club, AS Roma, has appointed Jose Mourinho as its new head coach for 2021/2022 season.
Former Tottenham Hotspur manager, Jose Mourinho has reached an agreement with AS Roma to become the club’s Head Coach for the 2021/22 campaign.
The Portuguese manager who was sacked in April after just seven months in charge due to Tottenham Hotspur’s poor performance has agreed to a three-year contract with AS Roma which will run till June 2024.
In the early hours of today, AS Roma announced that their current manager, Paulo Fonseca, would leave the club at the end of the current season. Hours later, they announced their agreement with Mourinho.
What Jose Mourinho said about the new appointment
“Thank you to the Friedkin family for choosing me to lead this great club and to be part of their vision,” Mourinho said.
“After meetings with the ownership and Tiago Pinto, I immediately understood the full extent of their ambitions for AS Roma. It is the same ambition and drive that has always motivated me and together we want to build a winning project over the upcoming years.
The incredible passion of the Roma fans convinced me to accept the job and I cannot wait to start next season.
In the meantime, I wish Paulo Fonseca all the best and I hope the media appreciate that I will only speak further in due course. Daje Roma!” he added.
This is Jose Mourinho’s second spell in Serie A after his famous two seasons spent in Inter.
What Roma bosses are saying about Mourinho’s appointment
In welcoming the Portuguese coach to the team, club president Dan Friedkin and vice-president Ryan Friedkin said:
“We are thrilled and delighted to welcome José Mourinho into the AS Roma family.
A great champion who has won trophies at every level, José will provide tremendous leadership and experience to our ambitious project.
The appointment of José is a huge step in building a long-term and consistent winning culture throughout the club.”
Tiago Pinto, Roma’s General Manager (Football) also pitched in, saying:
“When José became available, we immediately jumped at the chance to speak with one of the greatest managers of all time. We were blown away by José’s desire to win and his passion for the game: no matter how many trophies he has won, his primary focus is always on the next one. He possesses the knowledge, experience and leadership to compete at all levels.
We know that in order to build a successful sporting project it takes time, patience and the right people in the right positions. We are supremely confident that José will be the perfect coach for our project, for both our immediate and long-term future.
Together with the vision and ambition of Dan and Ryan Friedkin, we will build the foundations of a new AS Roma.”
In case you missed it
Jose Mourinho was sacked 17 months into a three-and-a-half-year contract, after which he got a £16m compensation fee for being relieved of his managerial duties early in his contract.
Spotify CEO, Daniel Ek insists he is ‘very serious’ about Arsenal takeover bid
According to reports, Daniel Ek is expected to submit his first bid which is in the region of £1.8billion in the next few days.
Following Stan Kroenke’s role in failed breakaway Super League, there has been outrage and protests with fans calling for his exit from the club’s ownership.
At Arsenal’s last Premier League match against Everton on Friday, thousands of fans protested outside the Emirates Stadium brandishing placards that read #KreonkeOut. Social media was also awash with protesting fans.
Daniel Ek, CEO of Spotify, the Swedish audio streaming and media services provider, has expressed his interest in buying the London giants on his Twitter account saying he would be happy to throw his hat in the ring if the club owner would like to sell.
“As a kid growing up, I’ve cheered for @Arsenal as long as I can remember. If KSE would like to sell Arsenal I’d be happy to throw my hat in the ring,” his account read.
Daniel Ek is a Swedish billionaire entrepreneur and technologist. He doubles as the Co-Founder and CEO of audio streaming service, Spotify. The company has more than 180 million users and boasts of more than 87 million paying subscribers. According to Forbes, his real-time net worth is $4.3billion.
However, on Tuesday, Stan Kroenke through his Kroenke Sports and Entertainment (KSE), said in a statement that he doesn’t have any intention of selling.
“In recent days we have noted media speculation regarding a potential takeover bid for Arsenal Football Club. We remain 100 percent committed to Arsenal and are not selling any stake in the club. We have not received any offer and we will not entertain any offer,” read the KSE statement.
In 2007, Stan Kroenke bought a 9.9% stake in Arsenal. Slowly, he built up his shares until it shot to 62.89% in 2011. Then, in 2018, he assumed full control of the club after Russian Alisher Usmanov, who has a net worth of $18.4 billion accepted his bid of £550million to buy him out.
Ek’s ambition to buy Arsenal FC
According to reports, Daniel Ek is expected to submit his first bid which is in the region of £1.8billion in the next few days. He has also enlisted the support of club legends Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira.
In an interview with CNBC, he said he has secured the funds to complete the takeover.
“I’ve been an Arsenal fan since I was eight years old. Arsenal is my team. I love the history. I love the players. And of course, I love the fans,” he said.
“So as I look at that, I just see a tremendous opportunity to set a real vision for the club to bring it back to its glory. And I want to establish trust with fans and I want to engage the fans again.
So, to answer your question, I’m very serious. You know, I have secured the funds for it and I want to bring what I think is a very compelling offer to the owners and I hope they hear me out.
I’ve been a fan for 30 years of this club and I certainly didn’t expect that this would happen overnight and I’m prepared that this could be a long journey. But all I can do is prepare what I think is a very thoughtful offer and bring it to them and hope they hear me out.
I’m just focused on the club, I focus on the fans and I focus on trying to bring the club back to glory and as you said, I’m first and foremost a fan. That’s the most important thing for me and I want the club to do better – that’s my primary interest,” he added.
What Arsenal’s legendary coach, Arsene Wenger thinks about Ek’s ambition
In an interview, Arsene Wenger faulted the Swedish billionaire, Daniel Ek, for expressing his interest to buy the club saying he now has ‘a mountain to climb.’
He said, “For the project, the best deals are made when nobody knew about it and you come out and it is done.”
“Once you announce things, you have a mountain to climb after. Nobody wants to give in and I think it is better always if you do your deal, then when it is done you come out and tell people what you want,” he added.
Can Ek fund the move?
“His wealth actually has been misreported in recent days. I mean the exact detail is that he owns 8 per cent of Spotify and currently Spotify shares have actually fallen by 10 per cent on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) this afternoon.
The company is currently valued at around $50bn, so he owns 8 per cent of $50bn – around $4bn to be precise. Now we don’t know whether he has got liquid funds in addition to that,” Sky News Business Presenter, Ian King said.
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