The much talked about Ehibam Schools Rugby tournament was successfully launched with pump and pageantry on Saturday 01 December 2018 at Emotan Collage sports ground in Benin City.
National Daily learnt that the occasion which witnessed a good number of dignitaries from across the Edo State Sports circle and beyond had in attendance the Chairman of the newly established Edo State Sports Commission, Barrister Godwin Dudu-Orumen who also represented the Sports loving Deputy Governor of Edo State The Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu who was unavoidably absent due to the State burial of Pa Tony Anenih and also the fact that the1st December was his own birthday as well.
The Chairman paid glowing tribute to the successes and achievements recorded by the Edo State Rugby teams from inception in 2006 through the Head Coach popularly called “Mr Rugby” Ntiense Williams and his team.
Barrister Godwin Dudu-Orumen told National Daily that we are proud of the exploits of the Rugby teams in Edo State and will like to express our appreciation and encouraging them to do more for the state and make Rugby a household name in Edo State”
Said he,”Rugby being a power and strength contact sports is well suited for our youths and we will like to encourage it to grow through the schools sports system to stardom with our athletes doing exploits for the state, the national and on the international stage as well”.
The launch of the Schools Rugby Tournament also had in attendance the head of the Alonge Family in Benin in the person of Pa Sonnie Erhunwusee who eulogised the late Ehisieme Osarieme Ehi Alonge in whose memory the Ehibam Rugby Tournament is instituted. He pledged the family’s full support and commitment for the tournament which will fully take off next year in Benin City.
Said he, “The family wishes to thank the Ehibam Griefshare Foundation and the Edo State Rugby Association for initiating this laudable project in memory of our late son Ehi Alonge and we as a family have decided to further endorsed the Rugby catch them young sports programs which it hopes will gain the much needed attention by well meaning cooperate bodies, individual sponsors and the government of Edo State towards encouraging the development of Schools Rugby in the state in particular and Nigeria generally”
In his welcome speech, the Chairman of the Edo State Rugby Association Engr. Frank Evboumwan thanked the Ehibam Griefshare Foundation and the entire Alonge Family for coming up with this beautiful project in memory of their son which perfectly blends with our Schools Rugby Program in Edo State. He further appreciated the family for buying into the Schools Rugby program which he expects will be a lasting and landmark event for Edo State Rugby Association in years to come. He went on to donate two Rugby Balls each to the twelve participating schools and some cash prizes to the Winners of both boys and girls rugby event.
A special guest to the event Brig. General Samuel Oviawe who graced the occasion through the invitation of the Chairman of the Edo State Sports Commission Barrister Godwin Dudu Orumen, further expanded the scope of the program by pledging to donate Rugby balls to any new school that wants to join the program. He further promises to sponsor the training of Coaches for the program in the state and also the training of Media men to enable them properly propagate the gospel of this new sports in Edo State to the populace with the much needed appreciation it rightly deserves.
Meanwhile, host Emotan Collage defeated Idia Collage by 15 points to 5 points in the girls category, while Prisons Staff Collage defeated Asoro Grammar School by 17 points to 15 points in the boys category in the maiden demonstration matches played to launch the Ehibam Schools Rugby Tournament.
According to the founder of Ehibam Griefshare Foundation Pastor Dupe Irele, who formally presented the two trophies to the organisers for the tournament which will kicks off next year, “The tournament is hereby formally launched today 01 December being his posthumous birthday. We hope to scale it up to an annual Schools Rugby Tournament next year with some side rugby clinics as well. We also look forward to it becoming a National event to promote the game of Rugby in Nigeria Schools eventually.
We will like to sincerely appreciate the workaholic Mr Ntiense Williams popularly known as “Mr Rugby” in Nigeria who has been so fantastic, helping and guiding us through the sports of Rugby which is fast growing in the country. The Foundation is therefore proud to be associated with this project in memory of our son Ehibam.
We are already talking with his Kuburn Cosmos Rugby Club side in England who have also promised to assist and possibly visit Nigeria and play some international club friendly rugby matches especially in Edo state and in the flagship national rugby tournament.
Rugby was introduced to Edo State in 2006 by Mr Ntiense Williams towards the Gateway Games which Rugby became a Medal winning event and Edo State won an unprecedented 4 Gold & 1 Bronze Medals out of 6 Gold Medals at the National Sports Festival. The Schools Rugby Program have been running since 2014 in twelve Schools in Benin metropolises on self sponsorship.
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 and tourist destination in Rugby through our ongoing “Catch them young Schools Rugby Project”.
We sincerely thank the Ehibam Griefshare Foundation for reposing the confidence in us and will like to call on other well meaning individuals and corperate bodies to come and join forces with us towards developing the sports in the state and in Nigeria.