The North Central Zone Badminton Championship has ended in Minna with Niger and Kwara states emerging victorious in the three days event.

Niger state Aliyu Shehu came from a one game down to defeat his Kwara state opponent, Moses Babatunde in the finals of the male singles by 2-1, while the same Aliyu Shehu peered with Victor Otori in the male doubles finals to defeat their Kwara state counterpart, Moses Babatunde and Habib Suleiman, by two straight games.

In the female category of the event, Kwara state Zainab Alabi defeated Benue state Patricia Akpusugh by two straight game in the singles, while the duo of Safiyat Obanishola and Romoke Taofiq who represented Kwara also defeated their Benue state opponent, Patricia Akpusugh and Lois Makir in the female doubles finals by two straight game.

Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Kogi state were joined third for the bronze medal in the male category, while in the female category it was Kogi and Niger state that were joined third for the bronze medal.

Speaking during the closing ceremony, last Saturday, at the College of Education Minna Multi-Purpose Sports Hall, Niger state Commissioner for Sports Development, Hon. Emmanuel Duza Babur said the state has achieved a lot from the hosting of the championship.

The Commissioner who was represented at the event by the state Director of Sports, Alh. Baba Sheshi Katcha explained that the tournament had exposed the state players to the game which enabled them to acquire more skills and experiences in the game of Badminton which will go a long way in improving their game.

He also said that from the economic point of view the petty traders have enjoyed patronage from about five states participants that participated in the championship, thereby empowering them economically.

He also added that the championship had further strengthened the existing relationship between the states of the zone and created avenue for friendship among participants, which according to him will enhance the development of the game in the zone and the country as a whole.

“Sports is about friendship, it is all about making friends, it is about unity and it is about peace. So, I want to urge the participants to please interact with one another, make friends here today so that tomorrow we shall meet once again at another place,” he said.

The Commissioner also said the state was proud to have successfully hosted the championship without any hitch, and expressed the state readiness to host any sporting event to the best of their ability whenever given the opportunity to do so.

Also, the North Central Zonal representative in the Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN), Mr. Gabriel S. Gbayan expressed satisfaction with the standard of play exhibited by the participants.

He said the aim of the championship which was to know the status of the game in the North Central Zone had been achieved, saying the quality and standard of play he had seen will afford him the opportunity to explain the level of the game in the zone to other executive members of BFN.

Mr. Gbayan who said the standard of the game in the zone was satisfactory and very high compared to other zone, also explained that the tournament was very unique because there were other events included in the programme.

He said they invited the players representative in the BFN who addressed the players particularly about being discipline, and that the umpire’s training, zonal stakeholders meeting and the use of feather shuttle which is the BFN standard were all introduced during the three days event.

He also explained that because Niger state was peaceful compare to other states in the zone, they decided to bring the maiden edition of the championship in the state.

Similarly, the North Central Zonal Coordinator of the National Sports Commission (NSC), Dr. Patrick Uwagbale said his mandate was to see to the development of sports in the zone, saying any sport that is doing well in the zone was to his glory.

He expressed happiness that Badminton was doing well in the zone, and that the organizers of the championship have made his job easier and called on other sports officials to emulate the Badminton officials in the zone.

The state Chairman of Niger state Badminton Association, Alh. Nma Kolo represented by Alh. Mohammed Aliyu Koshe said he was excited with the performance of the participants, particularly the players who represented the state.

He also observed that the sports industry was the largest employer of labour and called on youths in the state to engage actively in sports.

The special guest of honour at the closing ceremony, Alh. Salihu Inuwa Fuka pledged that as a veteran Badminton player he will support the state Badminton Association to take Badminton to a greater height in the state and the zone, appreciating the organizers of the championship for making him the special guest of honour.