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JUST IN: Osaka Withdraws From Wimbledon

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Japanese star Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from Wimbledon, her agent confirmed Thursday, weeks after the world number two pulled out of the French Open citing her struggle with depression and anxiety. 

“Naomi won’t be playing Wimbledon this year,” Osaka’s agent Stuart Duguid said in an email to AFP. “She is taking some personal time with friends and family.

“She will be ready for the Olympics and is excited to play in front of her home fans.”

On Wednesday, Wimbledon organisers said the 23-year-old four-time Grand Slam champion was expected to take part in the championships, which start on June 28.

“At this point in time she’s entered into the championships and we haven’t received confirmation that she won’t compete,” All England Club chief executive Sally Bolton said.

Osaka has been in the spotlight since withdrawing from the French Open.

She was fined $15,000 and threatened with disqualification from Roland Garros after she refused to honour mandatory media commitments.

French Open organisers protested that they had treated her with “care and respect” after they were accused of being heavy-handed.

Osaka lost in the third round of Wimbledon in 2017 and 2018 and bowed out in the first round in 2019. Last year’s tournament was cancelled due to coronavirus.

Earlier Thursday, two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal also announced he would be skipping this year’s tournament as well as the Olympics in order “to prolong my career”.

Wimbledon is the second tournament Osaka has withdrawn from since abandoning her French Open campaign after one match.

She also withdrew from a WTA tournament in Berlin following Roland Garros. (AFP)

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NWFL Premiership: Naija Ratels Embark On Pre-Season Tour Of Lagos, Osogbo, Akure And Lokoja

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Newly promoted NWFL Premiership side, Naija Ratels will tour the South-West of Nigeria with matches in Lagos, Osogbo, Akure and Lokoja.

The 2021 NWFL Championship winners have confirmed 12 games as part of their preparation for the Flying Officers Pre-Season Championship and the start of the new NWFL Premiership season.

The Abuja based side will take on Dannaz Ladies on the 2nd of August at the Agege Stadium, as part of their rigorous Pre-Season schedule, then battle Eko Football Women Selected side on the 3rd of August at the same venue.

The Ratels will then split the squad in two when they move to the National Stadium, Surulere (Legacy Pitch) On the 4th of August, to play against FC Robo Queens and Oasis Ladies FC, in the morning and evening respectively.

After the matches in Lagos, the Bankole Olowookere’s Ladies will continue preparation with a trip to Osogbo, where they will face Osun Babes FC on the 5th of August at the Osogbo City Stadium, then travel to Akure on the 6th of August to keep a date with Sunshine Queens, before finally ending the tour in Lokoja on the 7th of August against Confluence Queens.

The Head Coach of the side, Bankole Olowookere highlighted the reasons behind the Pre-Season tour, noting that it was necessary for the team to play at different venues so as to quickly adapt to the system of the NWFL Premiership.

“It is important for us to go on this Pre-Season tour, so that the players can all adapt to the various footballing atmosphere. Our aim is to prepare adequately enough and continue to strengthen the squad for future challenges.

“As we speak now, the team is set and all the players are in Lagos, getting prepared for training, before we start out with some matches, starting from the 2nd of August.

Naija Ratels will be participating in the NWFL Premiership for the first time in the 2022 NWFL Premiership season and are currently the Champions of the second tier league, the NWFL Championship.

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Osetoba Reaffirms Commitment To Sports Development In Ekiti

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Chairman Ekiti State Sports Council, Hon. Mrs Olusola Osetoba has restated her commitment to develop sports in Ekiti State.

Osetoba disclosed this during the week in her office at the Oluyemi Kayode Stadium, Ado-Ekiti.

She stressed the sports remains a unifying factor in the country and big business globally.

The Emure-born astute sports administrator said building a sports culture among the people in Ekiti has been one of her objective since she came into office in April.

“Sports touches people’s live in many different ways across the globe and that is what I want to build in Ekiti,” said Osetoba.

“I will continue to encourage participation in sports by providing more opportunities for people to get involved in my own ways. “I’m trying to expand our sports projects and programed, training, coaching and other initiatives,” said Osetoba.

“Since I came into office, have been trying to work along side other government agencies, the non-governmental organization (NGO’s) and charities in order to promote sporting participation in from the grassroots (communities) and to implement government initiatives.

“I have adopted an effective partnership and networking with a wide range of community groups as a model to develop sports in Ekiti to gradually progress from the grassroots right up until elite and world class.”

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Amunike Endorses Gulf United Scholarship Showcase in Nigeria

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Barely 10 days to Gulf United maiden edition of African football talent hunt in Nigeria, Super Eagles legend and former coach of Tanzanian national team Emmanuel Amunike has endorsed the scholarship showcase.

The event which is expected to kick-off in two major cities in Nigeria, Abuja and Lagos from the 6th of August at the Area 3 football pitch has already enjoyed many endorsements from prominent personalities like Bitrus Bewarang, Nduka Ugbade and popular Nollywood actor Kenneth Okonkwo.

Speaking to coach Marcellinus Anyanwu, the one time African Footballer of the year winner in 1994 Amunike said:

“What you are bringing in Nigeria is a wonderful project, I admire the confident you have built among the lads in Nigeria. I have no doubt that the scholarship program will be a huge opportunity for talented players to play and study in Canada and USA.

Your are bringing great and good things to Nigeria my brother.”

Amunike was the first Nigerian to play for Barcelona when he was signed by the club in 1996. He spent four years at the club and won the Copa del Rey in the 1996/1997 season.

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