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Houghton emerges first England pick in unconventional FIFA Women’s World Cup unveiling




She was named during an unconventional unveiling dribbled out on social media, and revealed by a series of celebrities.

The Duke of Cambridge announced defender Houghton’s spot in a video message.

“It gives me great pleasure to be able to announce that England’s defensive rock and captain Steph Houghton will be on the plane to France,” he said. “Steph — congratulations. I know you and the team will do the nation proud. Good luck!”

The squad was revealed over several hours to allow each individual their moment in the sun, manager Phil Neville said.

Other early announcements included striker Ellen White —- revealed by TV host and actor James Corden —- and left back Alex Greenwood who was announced by singer Olly Murs.

Olympique Lyonnais midfielder Izzy Christiansen has been left out of the squad after failing to prove her fitness since breaking her ankle in March.

Christiansen picked up the injury during England’s win over Japan at the SheBelieves Cup and required surgery.

Lyon posted a video on Twitter on Monday of the 27-year-old resuming individual training but Neville has instead opted to select Birmingham midfielder Lucy Staniforth in her place.

England have 11 players who will make their World Cup debuts next month, while Karen Carney and Jill Scott will make their fourth appearance at the tournament.

“This is a significant moment in our World Cup campaign,” said Neville.

“Picking a squad is never easy but I believe in this group and I know they will be ready to help us perform at our very best at the finals.

“We know what we are capable of achieving and are determined to do all we can to be successful. We keep saying it but the hard work starts now and we are going to give it everything we have to make the nation proud.”

The World Cup will feature 24 teams, and takes place across France from June 7 to July 7.

England, who will begin their campaign against Scotland on June 9, are one of the favourites for the tournament this year.

Their best result was a third-place finish in 2015 in Canada.



NBA fines Hield $25K for kicking ball into stands



Buddy Hield paid the price for a Sunday night celebration.

The Sacramento guard kicked the ball into the stands after the Kings held on for a win over the visiting Boston Celtics, and the NBA handed him a $25,000 fine Monday.

It was the same penalty assessed to Patrick Beverley last month after the Los Angeles Clippers guard underhanded the ball into the stand following a win by his team.

On Saturday, the Kings survived when a last-second shot by Boston’s Marcus Smart rolled off the rim at the buzzer, sealing Sacramento’s 100-99 victory.

When the ball came down, Hield punched it to half court, then chased after it and booted it into the crowd.

NBA players are not allowed to “intentionally throw, kick, or send the ball into the stands for any reason.”

A technical foul is to be assessed if such an action occurs during a game, but the Sunday contest was already over by the time Hield showed off his kicking leg.

Hield, 26, was instrumental in the win, producing game highs with 35 points and four steals. He is averaging 19.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 0.9 steals through 12 games this season.

Edited by Emmanuel Okara/Maharazu Ahmed

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Nasarawa Commissioner seeks legislation compelling coys to contribute to sports development



The Nasarawa State Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Mr Othman Adams, on Tuesday advocated legislation to compel companies doing business in the state to contribute funds for sports development.

Adams told newsmen in Lafia that such legislation would go a long way to address issues bordering on funds, to develop budding talents and reward performance.

According to him, contractors, companies and corporate organisations in the state will remit some funds into the state government coffer, specifically for sports development, as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

He also said that the legislation, if operational, would target a holistic sports development in the state.

“It is a known fact that, most of these organisations operating in Nasarawa state does not engage in any form of CSR,“ he said.

He stressed the need for a law to compel contractors and organisations doing business in the state to contribute some amount to the state government coffer.

According to him, such move will boost sports development, help discover talents, develop them and appropriately reward retired athletes who performed diligently during their days.

He decried the poor state of health of many retired athletes who had made the state and country proud during their active days.

“Some of these retired athletes, including footballers, who brought glory to the nation, have been abandoned to their fate as they can hardly feed or attend to their health.

“This should not be, considering the sacrifices they have made.”

The commissioner, however, urged athletes to always prepare ahead of retirement in order not to become a liability at old age.

Editing by Oluyinka Fadar/Dada Ahmed

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German Olympic Chief, Hoermann, welcomes private initiative on games



Alfons Hoermann, president of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), has given a cautious welcome to private plans promoting a bid to host the 2030 Winter Games.

“Fundamentally, it is pleasing when traditional venues in Germany express an interest in hosting major sporting events and creating the conditions for this,’’ he said on Tuesday.

“But the path to a successful Olympic bid leads through a completely different dimension of requirements.

“On the DOSB side, we will examine the possible concept in due course and assess if it can have a chance of success.’’

On Monday, two individuals revealed an initiative to host the games across Thuringia, Saxony and Bavaria.

They hope to present their idea to the DOSB general assembly on Dec. 7.

The 2022 winter games will be hosted in Beijing and 2026 has been awarded to Milan-Cortina in Italy.

Edited by Fatima Sule/Abdulfatah Babatunde

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Olympics: Tokyo finishes building stadium for 2020



Construction work has been completed at Tokyo’s National Stadium, set to be the centrepiece of next year’s Olympic Games, the site’s owners said on Tuesday.

The Japan Sports Council said the final work had been completed on Thursday with just the final quality and safety checks remaining before the stadium opens next month.

It will be officially unveiled on Dec. 21, with the Emperor’s Cup soccer final being the first sporting event to be held there on New Year’s Day.

Completed at a cost of more than $1.25 billion, the stadium, which can accommodate 60,000, will also host the athletics and soccer events during the Games.

Construction started in December 2016, about 14 months later than planned, after the original design was scrapped because of a public outcry over spiraling costs.

The delay meant the stadium could not host matches of the Rugby World Cup, as originally planned.

The National Stadium is one of eight new venues to be used at the Tokyo Games, all of them are either complete or on schedule to be finished before the event.

The Tokyo Olympics run from July 24 to Aug. 9.

Edited by Emmanuel Okara/Maharazu Ahmed

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Beach Soccer World Cup: We are good to go , says Sand Eagles’ Captain



Victor Tale, Captain of the Super Sand Eagles says the team is in top form for an impressive outing at the 2019 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Paraguay.

Tale told the Nigeria News Agency in a phone interview on Tuesday that judging from the performance of the team in preparatory friendly matches for the tournament, the Sand Eagles were good to go.

NAN reports that the team left Nigeria on Nov. 8 for the tournament, which holds between Nov. 21 and Nov. 24 in Paraguay.

Nigeria will compete against Brazil, Oman and Portugal in Group D.

Tale said though the Sand Eagles lost some of the friendly matches they played after arrival in Paraguay, the team had learnt from their mistakes and were fully ready for the tournament.

“Our friendly matches showed that we are ready, although we lost some of our matches but we have learnt a lot from our mistakes.

“The current form of each of my teammates is commendable, you know to be in top form goes a long way in a tournament of such magnitude,’’ he said.

NAN reports that, in the team’s friendly match against the host, Paraguay won 7-4, while the Super Sand Eagles won the match against Tahiti 9-5.

The Nigerian team also lost another friendly 2-1 to UAE after extra time.

Edited by Buhari Bolaji/Maharazu Ahmed

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Shenjobi FC emerges winner of CMD’s football competition



Shenjobi Football Club has emerged winner of the 2019 Chief Medical Director’s Football Competition organised by the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan.

Nigeria News Agency reports that Shenjobi FC emerged winner of the competition after defeating Olatawura Football Club 2-0 in the finals played at the UCH Sports field.

Shenjobi, a team which comprises administrative staff of the institution had secured its two goals through Tunde Idris.

The competition which commenced on Oct. 28, was part of activities lined up to celebrate the institution’s 62nd anniversary.

Prof. Abiodun Otegbayo, the Chief Medical Director, UCH, said the institution was founded on Nov. 20, 1962, adding that the tournament was one of the activities to mark its 62nd anniversary.

Otegbayo said that the tournament was organised by the institution to foster unity among members of staff and add value to their health.

“The spirit behind it is the unification of the staff of the hospital. Today, we have doctors playing administrators. Previously, Medical Laboratory Scientists, Pharmacists, all those group have played together.

“So, this is to unite the hospital so that we work as a team. As they are working as a team on the football pitch, the same way we want them to work together in the hospital.

“So that together we will achieve the aims and objectives of the institution,’’ he said.

The CMD added that the tournament would encourage value addition to their health, saying sports and physical activities improve the health.

“I think the idea of it is to do something to add value to our health. When we engage in sports we become very fit. Your heart function well, your lung function well, your brain function well.

“So, for those who have not been engaging in one form of sporting activity or the other, we encourage them to do so. Even if you cannot play any game, you can do work out,’’ he said.

Otegbayo described football as the leading game of sports in the country, saying the country was best known for football across the world.

He promised that the competition would be an annual event to promote unity and sound health.

NAN reports that the well attended event featured presentation of medals, trophies and monetary prizes to the outstanding teams.

Edited by Ese E. Ekama

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