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Okowa urges athletes to make Nigeria proud at 13th African Games

Tonobok Okowa urges Nigerian track and field competitors participating in the current 13th African Games in Ghana to bring honour and glory to their country at the event.

The 13th African Games, Accra 2023 will be held at the University of Ghana Sports Complex in Legon, Accra.

The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) President, Tonobok Okowa, has called on Nigerian track and field athletes participating in the ongoing 13th African Games in Ghana to make the country proud at the Games.

Speaking with The Guardian on phone as the last batch of home-based athletes left Abuja for the Games, Okowa said it would be befitting if track and field stars contribute to Team Nigeria’s success in Ghana by winning more gold medals than their previous outing in Rabat, Morocco.

“Our last batch of athletes are leaving for Accra today and we hope to organise a small party to celebrate AFN’s 80 years celebration over there to appreciate the vision and good work of our fathers, who were the founding fathers of athletics,” said Tonobok Okowa.

80 Years of Athletics in Nigeria

The Athletics Federation of Nigeria recently celebrated its 80th-year anniversary, marking a significant milestone in the history of Nigerian sports.

The AFN was founded on March 11, 1944 as Amateur Athletics Association of Nigeria (AAAN). According to Sports Village Square, the AFN anniversary has always passed unmarked or uncelebrated, even when such were milestones.

The athletics body was founded in Lagos at an historic meeting attended by five Nigerians and 10 British expatriates.

The Nigerians were T. E Achibong, James Harding Ekperigin, Luke Emejulu, S. O. Jolaoso and S.M Oduba, while the expatriates were F. K. Butler, P. W. Price, A. H Clift, N. S Clouston, L. J Lewis and T. B. Welch. The others were E. A. Miller, G. Wilson, R. G. Henderson and Capt. Donald Henry Holley.

The latter became the chairman of the then Nigeria Football Association and led Nigeria’s first national football team on a tour of the United Kingdom in 1949.

At the inaugural meeting of the athletics body, Capt Holley was appointed as the founding chairman. The honorary secretary was V.B.V Powell, who was assisted by a Nigerian, S. Oyebola Jolaoso.

They organised the first All Nigeria Open Athletics Championship in Ibadan in 1947. They also had the first inter-colonial championship of Nigeria and Gold Coast (now Ghana) in Lagos in 1947. Another athletics championship was also held at the Police Ground at Obalende in Lagos.

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