The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has expanded the National Principals’ Cup from its football mandate to accommodate Athletics, Table Tennis, Boxing and Badminton, the sportsbay.com reports.
According to the sports minister, Sunday Dare during the unveiling of the logo and brand ambassador in Lagos said the move is part of the ministry’s effort to revamp the tournament and is fundamental to the Sports Ministry’s “mandate of expanding the catchment areas of our grassroots development efforts in the country”.
It will be recalled that Principals’ Cup was traditionally a football tournament for secondary schools, where state champions compete for the national title who went on to make names.
Stephen Keshi, Daniel Amokachi, Henry Nwosu, Sunday Oliseh, Joseph Dosu and Jonathan Akpoborie are some of the notable names to have come through the competition who all went on to have successful football careers including playing and winning laurels for Nigeria.
By expanding the number of events in the Principals’ Cup, the ministry hopes to kick start a self-sustaining process that will identify and nurture promising talents and produce future household names and make Nigeria a powerhouse in other sports like has happened in football in the past.
“As the honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development, I have a firm belief that the only road to sustained podium performances by our sportsmen and women is a return to the basics that was the bane of our sports development from time past,” Dare said.
While praising the efforts of various states which have maintained the tournament over the years, Dare revealed the ministry will “beginning this year”, “harmonise all the Principal Competitions across the states with finals at a predetermined location”.
The minister revealed his vision for the competition involves a strong and equal emphasis on the education of the athletes in the mould of the “Academicals” programme in the ’60s and ’70s which anchored sports development efforts on education.
The minister hinted that plans were in the offing to take the competition international with tournaments to be staged against Ghanaian schools in the manner of the Academicals.
Meanwhile, ex-national team legends Daniel Amokachi and Joseph Dosu were unveiled as ambassadors alongside track legend Mary Onyali.
The 2020 edition will commence as soon as the lockdown, caused by the coronavirus pandemic, is totally relaxed.