Another tournament is in the offing as attempts to popularize rugby in Nigeria gather momentum.
According to head coach of Edo State Rugby Association, Ntiense Williams, the Ehibam Griefshare Foundation is partnering with the Edo State Rugby Association to launch the Ehibam Schools Rugby Tournament on Saturday December 1 at Emotan College in Benin City.
“Mr. Rugby”, Ntiense Williams
Activities lined up for the official launch of the tournament which will kick off fully in 2019 will include two schools sevens rugby matches for boys and girls from selected schools who have been involved in the sports of Rugby in the state.
Other activities lined up will include a wellness talk, medical testing and counselling by professional health workers for a preventive and healthy lifestyle for the society and mostly for those involved in sports and Rugby in particular.
Ehibam Griefshare Foundation has decided to partner in the development of Rugby in Nigeria and Edo State in particular.
According to the founder of the Foundation, Pastor Dupe Irele, “the Ehibam Griefshare Foundation was set up two years ago in memory of my beloved son Ehisieme Osarieme “Ehi” Alonge who passed on at a tender age of 35 years in England on his way home from work.
He was a dedicated rugby player and Coach, playing regularly with his local rugby team “Kilburn Cosmos RFC” and coaching the kids in his neighborhood!”
Said Pastor Dupe, as she is fondly called, “The Foundation which is primarily involved in assisting grieving family overcome their trying time has decided to give back to society through Ehi’s love – “Rugby” and what better place to start than his home town of Edo State” .
“After the formal launch of a Rugby Tournament this year on his birthday being 01 December, we hope to the scale it up to an annual Schools Rugby Tournament in his memory to be known as “Ehibam Schools Rugby Tournament” and it could possibly become a National event to promote the game of Rugby in Nigeria.
“We were introduced to Mr Ntiense Williams, popularly known as “Mr. Rugby” in Nigeria and he has been so fantastic in helping and guiding us through the planning of this event and the sport of rugby, which is so fast growing in the country.
“The Foundation is therefore proud to be involved with this project in memory of our son, Ehi.
“We have come home to Edo State with the hope of helping in whatsoever way to revive and reposition the state as a sports – and particularly – a Rugby-loving state in Nigeria.
“With time, we will be talking with his Kilburn Cosmos Rugby Club side to also assist and possibly visit Nigeria and play some international club friendly rugby matches especially in Edo state and in the flagship national rugby tournament. “
According to Ntiense Williams, the event promises to be a success with the endorsement by the Governor and the Deputy Governor of Edo State who are meant to grace the occasion as the Special Guests of Honour to the event alongside other state executive members and royal fathers.
Rugby was introduced to Edo State in 2006 by Ntiense Williams towards the Gateway Games which Rugby became a medal winning event and Edo State won an unprecedented four gold medals and a bronze medal out of six gold medals at the National Sports Festival.
The Schools Rugby Program has been running since 2014 in twelve Schools in Benin metropolises on self-sponsorship by the Coaches, and the assistance of the Chairman of the Edo State Rugby Association Arc. Frank Evbuomwan and some board members.
According to the Chairman of the newly established Edo State Sports Commission ,Godwin Dudu-Orumen who linked up the Foundation with the Rugby Association, “We sincerely thank the Ehibam Griefshare Foundation for reposing the confidence in the game of Rugby which is one of our power and strength sports which many Edo indigenes are involved here and abroad and doing exploits. We will like to call on other well-meaning individuals and corporate bodies to come and join forces with us towards developing the sports in the state and in Nigeria”.
According to the Head Coach of the Edo State Rugby Association and National Technical Director of the Nigeria Rugby Football Federation, “we are very delighted to have this surprise package from Ehibam Griefshare Foundation to float a Schools Rugby Tournament in Edo State.
“We look forward to partnering with them towards further making Edo State a household name, tourist destination in Rugby through our ongoing “Catch-Them-Young Schools Rugby Project”.