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BOLT: I WOULD LOVE TO PLAY FOOTBALL NOW

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It is an open secret that Jamaican former sprinter, Usain Bolt is passionate about football apart from being an iconic athlete. The website of football governing body, fifa.com describes him as quite simply, the best sprinter of all time.

Of course, his medal-haul at the Olympic Games speak volume. With two gold medals in 100 metres and 200 metres at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, followed by a hat-trick of gold medals at each of London 2012 and Rio 2016 (adding the 4 x 100 metres relay sprint gold at both events) the Jamaican had unprecedented success in his discipline for around a decade.

The athletics legend made a slightly left-field promise during his track and field career: that he would take up football after hanging up his sprinting cleats. Having recently retired from the sport which he conquered, FIFA.com caught up with Bolt in an exclusive interview to discuss his love of football, his picks for this year’s The Best FIFA Football Awards, and what it takes to be the best.

 

FIFA.com: You were 11 years old when Jamaica played at their only FIFA World Cup to date, at France 1998. How much of that do you remember? Does anything notable stand out from that tournament?
Usain Bolt:
I can never forget when we qualified for the World Cup as our Prime Minster declared a national holiday. I remember our first goal at the World Cup too, Robbie Earle with that header against Croatia. Then in the final game Theodore Whitmore scored twice in the win against Japan.

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Now you’ve retired from sprinting, will you look to get involved in football at some level? If so, how?
Yes, I would love to play football now I’ve retired from track and field. I’ve been talking about it in interviews and a lot of clubs have reached out. Unfortunately, I got a bad hamstring injury in August and haven’t been able to do any training since then. Hopefully I will be able to play some games in 2018.

 

Did you ever play football with other athletes when training or in camp?
I play a lot in Jamaica over the winter. It wasn’t something that my coach liked but fortunately I didn’t get any injuries playing football that interrupted my athletics training.

 

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Footballers around the globe have to vote for a World11 from the past season (2016/17). What would be your World11 for 2016/17, and why?
There are so many great players, it’s not an easy team to pick! Obviously I’d have Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar leading the attack. I’ll put Gigi Buffon in goal. In defence I’ll go for Sergio Ramos and Leonardo Bonucci in the middle with Marcelo and Dani Alves as full backs. In midfield: Paul Pogba, Ngolo Kante and Philippe Coutinho.

 

The top three for The Best FIFA Men’s Player award are Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar – who’s your pick for number one and why?
I would go for Ronaldo. All three are amazing players but in the last year Cristiano won La Liga, the Champions League again and finished top scorer for the fifth season. His ability to stay at the top year after year is very impressive.

 

The three candidates for the Mens’ Coach award are Massimiliano Allegri, Antonio Conte and Zinedine Zidane. If you were a player, which of the three would you want to be coached by and why?
I would love to play for Zidane. I really admired him as a player and he has made the transition to coach very well. He’s won five major trophies in five tournaments.

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There’s an award for The Best FIFA Goalkeeper this year. Who do you think is the best keeper in the world at the moment and why?
Gianluigi Buffon. He’s almost 40 years old but very difficult to score against. Good goalkeepers give the players in front of them confidence and nobody would have a problem playing in front of Buffon. I met him recently at an event and he sent me a nice message when I retired.

 

The FIFA Puskás Award rewards the best goal of 2016/17. Which of the finalists would get your vote and why?
I’d vote for Oscarine Masuluke. For a goalkeeper to score an overhead kick in stoppage time like that is impressive.

 

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Who would you choose between Deyna Castellanos, Carli Lloyd and Lieke Martens for the Women’s Player award and why?
My vote would go to Lieke Martens. She led Holland to that European Championship win and was Player of the Tournament.

 

What makes London such a special city, and what does it mean to you?
I’ve been coming to London every year for the past 15 years. It’s become like my second home as I normally base myself in the city during the track and field season. There are a lot of Jamaicans living in London and I always get great support when I race there.

 

As you can tell from the names of the awards, FIFA are looking to recognise ‘The Best’. From someone who has risen to the top of their profession – can you give some insight into what it takes to be the best, and the sacrifices it takes to get there?
It takes talent, discipline, dedication and hard work. I believe that everyone who is considered one of the best has worked extremely hard to get there. To be successful at the highest level there are sacrifices you have to make in terms of parties, friends and getting rest.

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If you were to give advice to any young boy or girl who is determined to be the best in the world at their chosen sport, be that football, sprinting or another sport, what would it be?
Choose the right people to have around you and advise you, be determined, work hard, believe in yourself, success doesn’t always come overnight so be consistent and the results will come. I have a motto: ‘Anything is possible’.

 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Athletics

Committees set up for Gombe Inter Secondary Schools Competition

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Gara Gombe’s firm firms agreement to upgrade Gombe University’s facilities

The chairman of the Main Organizing Committee of Gombe State Inter Secondary Schools Athletic Competition, Ahmed Shuaibu Gara Gombe has set up the supporting bodies for the maiden edition of the event.

  According to a press release, the Main Organizing Committee

 met at the Conference Hall of GOFCECON Hotel to prepare grounds for the hosting of the competition.

In a communique signed by Gara Gombe seven sub -committees were constituted as follows:

1.Technical, Ceremonial, Entertainment and Training

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a) Zainab Ishaku Adamu – Ministry of Youth and sports. Chairman

b) Sani Nuhu Abdullahi – NAATO.  Member

c) Isa Dauda Zambuk – GWG.  Member

d) Prince Simon Ayuba – GWG. Secretary

2. Media and Publicity

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a) Mal Haruna Zakari — GAA. Chairman

b) Uzor Odigbo — GWG. Member

c) Abraham Fashakin- North East Times. Member

d) Yakubu Maikudi – NTA Gombe.  Secretary

3. Accreditation and Security

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a) ASP Jauro Usman – NPF.  Chairman

b) SP I Jerry Ketos Turawa- Gostec.  Member

c) ASC Ishaku Ibrahim – NCDC. Secretary 

4. Accommodation, Transportation and Logistics Committee 

a) Mal Ali Doho – Ministry of Education . Chairman

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b) Mr Adamu Tanko – NAPPS.  Member

c) Obehi Kingspin -NAPPS.  Secretary

5. Medical and Welfare

a) Mohammed Abubakar Ahmed. Ministry of Health- Chairman

b) Red Cross – Member

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c) Stephen Agboh – NAPPS. Secretary

6. General Duties

a) Ahmed Shuaibu Gara Gombe – CEO. GWG. Chairman

b) Mal Musa Garba – GAA Secretary

7. Secretariat  

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a) Ibrahim Audu – Ministry of Education. Chairman

b) Mohammed Musa Baba – Northeast Times. Member

c) Haruna Isah Kalshingi – GWG.  Secretary.

He noted that capacity training would be compulsory for all secondary schools games masters prior to the competition.

In addition to the secondary schools in Gombe State, invitation will be extended to a private and public secondary schools across the six  states of the North East zone.

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There will be free accommodation and feeding for the schools that registered for the invitational relay. The competition is  categorised to feature cadets, youths and 65  under 20 registered schools and approximately.

In all, it is approximated that 2,367 school students will be involved.

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Athletics

Gara Gombe sets up committee for Gombe Inter Schools Athletics Championship

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Former chairman of Gombe State Football Association, Ahmed Shuaibu Gara-Gombe has inaugurated the Main Organising Committee for the Gombe State Inter Secondary Schools Athletics Championship.

Last year at the primary schools edition, over a thousand pupils featured in what was the maiden edition sponsored by Ahmed Shuaibu-Gara Gombe who is also the chairman of the Gombe State Athletics Association. It was held at the Pantami Stadium.

The maiden competition had boys and girls from 47 schools in attendance. On Friday, in fulfilment of a pledge to raise the bar, the organising committee was set up  at the Gombe State University as part of private investment in sports development.

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Athletics

Former 800m world champion Pierre-Ambroise Bosse banned for 16 months

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France’s former 800m world champion Pierre-Ambroise Bosse has received a 16-month ban from the French Anti-Doping Agency after missing three drug tests in the space of nine months. Bosse announced he was quitting athletics late last year due to recurrent injuries.

The sanction comes after the 31-year-old missed three drug tests between September 2022 and June 2023. Bosse had announced his retirement in December, seven months before the Paris 2024 Olympics. He had received notifications of breaches three times, with the period coinciding with his efforts to return to a high-level athletic performance despite grappling with a hamstring injury.

The initial breach occurred on 25 September 2022, when an anti-doping controller arrived at his residence to conduct a test within the athlete’s scheduled time slot, but Bosse was not available. He told French news outlet L’Équipe: “I was one foot in training, one foot on holiday.”

Bosse, who was eliminated at semi-final stage of the Tokyo Olympics, was enduring a thigh problem at the time. Following surgery in December 2022, Bosse embarked on a race against time with the aspiration of competing in his fourth Olympic Games in Paris.

On 1 May 2023, authorities tried to contact him again, but were unable to reach him during a time when he was with family in Nantes. “I wasn’t worried at that time because I had forgotten the previous one and so I thought I only had one. At that moment, I gave up completely.”

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Then a month later, a controller returned to his residence for another scheduled check, but the athlete was evidently absent. He was subsequently informed a few weeks later of a likely two-year suspension for failing to fulfill such obligations. 

Despite feeling dejected and shocked, Bosse attempted to defend himself by attributing the second violation to an issue with the absence of a doorbell.

“I made three mistakes, I accept. It’s true that I haven’t always been the best student when it comes to taking care of my location but, until then, it had never played any tricks on me. I know I should have been more serious but I would like to point out that I have been in the AFLD target group since 2012 and they have all my analyses.”

The 31-year-old was unable to recuperate following surgery on his right thigh last year and had been out of competition since April 2023.

Before his injury troubles he most notably secured fourth place in the 800m at the Rio Games back in 2016, and has yet to recapture the form that led to his crowning as the world champion over 800m in London in 2017. Bosse also got his hands on bronze at the European Championships in both 2012 and 2018.

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Since leaving his beloved sport behind, the Frenchman has starred in two reality TV shows in his homeland and focussed on his association combining sport and ecology which he launched with his friend and former international team-mate Bryan Cantero.

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