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OVER 150 PLAYERS STORM KATSINA WEDNESDAY FOR FIRST BADMINTON CHAMPIONSHIP IN FIVE YEARS

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Over 150 badminton players across Nigeria are gathered for the first edition of Katsina Golden Star National Badminton Championship. As the president of the Badminton Federation of Nigeria, Francis Orbih, has put it, this is technically the first national badminton championship in Nigeria for many years.

He explained that other badminton contests have either been international classics, as it had happened in Lagos on three occasions, or badminton events of other fiestas like the National Sports Festival or the National Youth Festival.

“The current board is trying to revive the culture of having badminton competitions across the country to aid development of the sport and also assist in ranking of our players”, Orbih once remarked to Sports Village Square. The Katsina championship is just the first leg of a back-to-back event as the train will next week move to Lagos for another national badminton fiesta.

“The players will be gainfully engaged with all these activities”, Obiageli Solaja another board member told Sports Village Square. She remains one of the faces of badminton exploits in the country having been national and African ladies champions for years.

The Kaduna tournament is for four days and has brought joy to players in the country who have not played a national championship in over four years.

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Peace Orji, a Kaduna State badminton player told www.badmintonnigeria.org  that she hailed the vision of the new board led by Francis Orbih stating that badminton is about to be ranked among the popular sports in the country.

‘It is a bold move by the Francis Orbih-led board to have two championships this month. Many of the players have stopped playing owing to lack of tournaments, but the Katsina Golden Star National Badminton Championship will bring fresh hope for badminton in Nigeria’

Also, Lagos based Opeyori Anu; a winner earlier this year at Abidjan tournament, expressed excitement at the forthcoming back-to-back championships.

‘The last time we hosted a championship was 2013 in Abuja and since then nothing has come up. Now we have not just one, but two championships coming up in November.  This makes it more exciting than ever.

“More tournaments, more experience to gather and more motivation for the nation as a whole”, he concluded.

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One of the exciting players to watch in the country, Godwin Olofua said he can’t wait to arrive in Katsina for the championship which starts this Wednesday.

Olofua is however motivated with the prospect of playing in front of his family and friends when the Mutual Benefits Assurance backed Lagos Badminton National Championship holds from Wednesday to Saturday.

The Lagos based player who is likened to former world number one player Chong Wei of Malaysia because of his style of play, said he has been preparing day and night for the championships.

“I am excited because what we have been praying for as players are for championships like these. Since we have not had national championships in Nigeria since 2013 it has affected the players psychologically.

“I must commend the board led by Francis Orbih for coming up with the 1st Katsina Golden Star National Badminton Championship and the 1st Mutual Benefits 2017 Assurance Badminton Championship which will hold in Lagos”.

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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