In this exclusive chat, Head Coach of the Edo State Rugby Association Mr. Williams Ntiense had a chat with Joseph Odoekwu of SPORTS INTELLIGENCE MAGAZINE. He spoke on expectations as the lockdown is gradually easing down. He also reveals that Edo will be hard nut for Delta Stateto crack on homesoil when they host the national event.
What has it been like for Rugby generally during the lockdown?
It has been tough generally, but we all thank God for the gift of life. All sporting activities were suspended and Rugby was not excluded. But being alive and safe is most important, we have to move on.
What plans are on ground for Rugby athletes training ahead of the NSF?
We are following directives from the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports for the resumption of sportsing activities in the country. Presently, none contact sports have been given the green light to start training while a sport like Rugby which is a contact sports is yet to get the green light. But we hope it will happen soon.
Does that mean the athletes are just relaxing?
Not really. Some of our athletes have been involved in online training and learning sessions, with fitness trainings also inclusive. Meanwhile, we believe that all sporting activities will resume and should be given at least 3 months for preparations towards the National Sports Festival. It is like starting afresh with build ups and fitness before you get into specific training and game plans.
Delta State have boasted of sustaining their dominance of the NSF at the Edo 2020, do you think this is achievable?
They are free to say so, because they have been wining lately. But they should also remember that they have not won in the South South State hosted NSF. As host, Edo will certainly be a big obstacle to Delta at the Sports Festival. They will be at home and will surely want to do the people proud. Apart from home advantage, the athletes are heavily motivated by the Government of Edo State. Governor Godwin Obaseki and his sports loving Deputy Governor Rt. Hon Phillip Shuaibu have also provided adequate equipment. Most of the athletes are gainfully employed and are highly motivated. So it is not going to be easy for Delta when they come to defend their title in Edo State.
Are you implying that Edo will deny Delta all the gold medals in Rugby?
As far as Rugby is concerned, Edo and Delta are archrivals. When Rugby made debut at the NSF at the Gateway and Kada Games, Edo State cleared the table with 5 Gold, 4 Silver and 2 Bonze Medals. While Delta have so far won 4 Gold, 3 Silver & 3 Bronze Medals respectively. We have an edge over them. When it comes to National Tournaments, Edo State is the defending champion in the female category. We have done that back-to-back and its our strongest hold. What we are working on now is to ensure we have good match officials who will give the best when it comes to Rugby at the 20th NSF. Already we have built a new pitch which is the best so far in the country for the Rugby event. We look forward to a very competitive and rewarding event on our return to the NSF after 10 good years of absence.
On a final note what do you have to say?
We have to say a big thank you to our friend Barrister Godwin Dudu-Orumen, who is also the Chairman of the Edo State Sports Commission for his support. He helped ensure that Rugby is one of the 5 optional sports at the Edo 2020 NSF and has given the game a new lease of life on the National sporting arena.
Thank you for the time
You are welcome