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Edo 2020 to introduce VAR to Nigeria

By Christian Okpara
06 March 2020   |   4:12 am
The Edo 2020 National Sports Festival is on course to revolutionise the Nigerians sports scene. The festival, which begins on March 22, will not only take Nigeria...

• Hosts honour Eguavoen,  Ikhuoria, Usifo,  Ali, Oyema
The Edo 2020 National Sports Festival is on course to revolutionise the Nigerians sports scene. The festival, which begins on March 22, will not only take Nigeria into the comity of digitalized sports nations, it would also mark the beginning of the change the country’s sportsmen and officials have been yearning for.

Apart from the revolutionary security network put in place for the event, Edo 2020 National Sports Festival will for the first time show Nigerians how the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) works from close quarters.

The Edo 2020 National Sports Festival begins on March 22.

Speaking after an inspection tour of the facilities at the rebuilt Sam Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin on Tuesday, Edo State Deputy Governor, Phillip Shaibu said the state was doing everything possible to ensure that games met international standards, adding that the participants will get a first hand experience of some of the facilities they will encounter at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Edo 2020 festival.

Earlier, one of the workers in the VAR Room, Chinedu Agbo had briefed the governor and his entourage on the workings of the VAR cameras, which, he said, could also capture happenings outside the stadium.

“The high resolution cameras inside the VAR Room have a capacity that can capture activities five kilometers within the stadium. So, it invariably means that the VAR technology at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium is amongst the best anywhere in the world,” Agbo stated.

Musa Ebomhiana, the Chief Press Secretary to the Edo State Deputy Governor, said the introduction of VAR for the upcoming festival was a sign that the state was ready to host the best Games ever in the country.

“The VAR is the only one in Nigeria and the third in Africa. But while the one in Morocco is collapsible, ours is permanently there. It’s the same company that installed the VAR technology in Morocco that also did ours. It’s a landmark achievement in Nigerian sports and we are happy,” Ebomhiana said.

Last November, Morocco made history as the first African country to apply the VAR technology in an African domestic match for the first time.

VAR was earlier used at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt from the quarterfinal stages.

Meanwhile, Edo State will honour former Super Eagles captain and 1994 Africa Cup of Nations winner, Austin Eguavoen and four other illustrious sportsmen and women from the state during the 2020 National Sports Festival.

Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu gave the name of the other sportspeople as ex-boxer Isaac Ikhuoria, ex-hurdler Maria Usifo, Yusuf Ali and Paralympian Esther Oyema.

“We are proud that these great sportsmen and women, who made global impact in different sports, are from Edo. That is why we are using a big event like the National Sports Festival, to honour them,” Shaibu said.

Eguavoen, also a former Super Eagles coach, was a member of the squad that qualified for the country’s first ever World Cup in 1994, winning the AFCON same year.

Usifo, 55, ruled Africa in the women’s 100m and 400m hurdles in the 1980s, winning both events at the 1987 All Africa Games in Kenya. She also won the African Championships gold in 1984 (100m h), 1985 (100m h), 1988 (100m/400m h) and 1989 (400m h).

Ikhuoria, 72, is a retired light-heavyweight boxer who won a bronze medal at the 1972 Olympic Games. He also won a gold medal at the 1973 All-Africa Games.

Retired long jumper Ali, now 59, won a gold medal at the 1990 Commonwealth Games and was African champion in 1988 and 1989.

Paralympic gold medalist Oyema is regarded as one of the country’s most accomplished athletes of the present generation. She’s also won gold at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games.