The world on Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Diego Maradona, regarded as one of the best footballers of all time.
Fans, players, coaches, clubs and loved ones paid homage to the man revered for his talent and adored for his legacy, despite — or partly because of — his human flaws.
From Villa Fiorito, the Buenos Aires slum where he grew up, to Italy’s Naples, where he spent several years of his stellar career, and India, tributes abounded.
On football pitches in Argentina, players arranged themselves in a “10” formation to honor the famous jersey number of the man nicknamed the “Pibe de Oro” or Golden Kid, as fans chanted “Marado, Marado!”
A man prepares barbacue next to a mural that reads “Here rests D10S” outside the private cemetery where Argentine late footballer Diego Maradona is buried, on the first anniversary of his death, in Bella Vista, Buenos Aires province, Argentina, on November 25, 2021. ( by JUAN MABROMATA / AFP)
Outside his humble childhood home, bouquets of flowers and messages piled up — one reading: “You gave us heaven.”
“Maradona was the voice of the Argentine people. We will miss him and love him all our lives,” said fan Jose Maria Fernandez, through tears.
In Kolkota, India, a statue of Maradona was decorated with flowers, while in the southern Kerala state, fans gathered at a hotel where the footballer stayed in 2012, which has become something of a shrine.
“We have put a photo of him at the hotel for fans to come and pay respects. There will be flower offerings and lighting of candles. We are all Maradona fans and we miss him a lot,” Ravindran Veleimbra, owner of the Hotel Blue Nile in Kannur, told AFP.
– ‘Football’s great god’ –
In Naples, where Maradona is almost as much of an icon as in Buenos Aires, the president of football club Napoli, Aurelio De Laurentiis, visited a memorial to the player.
A statue of the athlete will be unveiled later in the presence of his son Diego Maradona Junior outside the Napoli stadium — renamed in his honor following his death.
De Laurentiis said statues of Maradona would also be placed inside the stadium.
“Players will be able to touch the hands and feet of football’s great god before the start of every match,” he said.
The club urged fans to arrive early for a match on Sunday against Lazio to attend a commemoration.
Maradona died of a heart attack last November aged 60, weeks after undergoing brain surgery for a blood clot.
The former Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli star had long battled cocaine and alcohol addictions and was suffering from liver, kidney and cardiovascular disorders when he died.
His death shocked fans around the world and tens of thousands lined up to file past his coffin, draped in the Argentine flag, at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires during three days of national mourning.
“It’s been a year since the world has been more horrible,” Dalma Maradona, the star striker’s eldest daughter, wrote on Twitter Thursday.
– ‘Hand of God‘ –
He may be dead, but in Argentina, Maradona is everywhere — from ubiquitous murals to television series about his life and even a “church” bearing his name.
In a country where football is a religion, he is a god.
Maradona’s two goals in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals, which saw Argentina triumph over England just four years after the Falklands War, made him an instant hero.
He is perhaps remembered as much for his “Hand of God” goal — which illegally came off his hand in what he ascribed to supernatural intervention — as for his second in the same match against England, which would later become known as the “Goal of the Century.”
His rags-to-riches story, stellar sporting achievements, complicated life and dramatic death entrenched his place in the Argentine psyche.
In the cities, Maradona’s name is memorialized in countless graffiti: “Diego lives,” “10 Eternal” and “D10S” — a play on words with the Spanish word for god, “Dios,” and the star’s jersey number.
Murals in Buenos Aires depict him with angel wings, as a patron saint complete with halo and scepter, or kissing the World Cup.
Maradona’s name continues to make headlines as well, with Argentines closely following an investigation into his death opened after two of his five children filed a complaint against neurosurgeon Leopoldo Luque, whom they blame for their father’s deteriorating condition after surgery.
A panel of 20 medical experts convened by Argentina’s public prosecutor concluded in April Maradona’s treatment was rife with “deficiencies and irregularities” and said his medical team had left his survival “to fate.”
The probe has been competing for headline space with the court case over an inheritance dispute involving two of Maradona’s daughters.
Adding to the news coverage, this week, a Cuban woman who had an affair with Maradona as a minor 20 years ago, accused him and his entourage of abuse, including rape.
Sports minister urges his staff to up the ante in their performance
***Receives Award from staff union
The Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, has called on Management and Staff of the Ministry to up the ante in their performance and accountability to meet the expectations of Nigerians in line with the Ministry’s mandate.
A statement that was signed by the Director Press and Public Relations Mohammed Manga quoted the Minister to have given the charge on Friday during the 3rd Town Hall Meeting with the staff of the Ministry, held at the Velodrome Centre of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
He said that the Town Hall Meeting with the staff was a tool that can be used to measure the successes and challenges recorded by various Departments of the Ministry.
This he said is particularly in the area of providing sustainable framework for the formulation and implementation of the policies, programmes and other initiatives of the present administration, aimed at promoting and enhancing youth and sports development in the country.
According to him, “It is through the monitoring and reporting of accomplishments, particularly progress made toward pre-established goals that we can ensure a Nigeria with empowered and successful youth in all fields of life and Nigerians that are adequately supported to excel in sports and youth development at all levels”.
This meeting, the Minister stated further, was, “instituted to review overall performance of the Ministry across all its departments, against the agreed targets; provide a forum for strategic planning discussions and policy recommendations and action; identify whether the Ministry is meeting the expectations of the public it serves, ensure decisions and policies are based on facts and identify where improvements need to be made”, he said.
He observed that the Ministry has improved tremendously within the period under review, from a second tier to a first tier rating.
He therefore urged the staff to put more efforts into the full implementation of the various initiatives, programmes and policies put together by the President Muhammadu Buhari led-Administration.
This he said should be with specific focus on Youth and Sports Development towards Wealth Creation, Youth Empowerment, Physical Fitness and Well-being, so as to achieve excellence in Sports, National Unity and Sustainable Growth and Development.
While expressing his determination to reposition the Ministry for optimum service delivery to Nigerians in line with its assigned mandate, Dare tasked the staff to take their jobs seriously.
He noted that the little efforts put in the line of duty will help the government and people of the country to attain their goals and aspirations.
The Minister who commended the staff for their commitment, explained that, the present administration over the years has initiated and implemented various programmes and projects to curtail youth unemployment by engaging them in meaningful and productive ventures that will lead to socio-economic growth and development.
Stating further that, the National Youth Policy (NYP) and Nigerian Youth Employment Action Plan (NIYEAP) as well as the National Youth Employment Template were all developed by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development (FMYSD) to respond to Youth employment in Nigeria.
Last year, he said, the Federal Government through the efforts of the Ministry approved N75b (Seventy-Five Billion Naira), Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) for young entrepreneurs to have access to loans at minimal interest rates in order to establish and improve their businesses.
“The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development under my watch launched the DEEL initiative aimed at giving Nigerian Youth a comparative advantage and a competitive edge in the global employment demand and supply. DEEL is an acronym for D-Digital Skills Acquisition, E-Employability, E-Entrepreneurship and L- Leadership”.
The DEEL initiative has equipped 200,000 youth with digital skills-basic, intermediate and advanced skill in areas such as Web design and management, software training, cloud competing, Artificial intelligence, App development, code and data processing,” the Minister said.
“I must commend you all for the improved performance in the period under review. Let me also emphasize the need for the Ministry to ensure that the public is kept up-to-date with your activities and achievements. Only few Nigerians, for example, know the tremendous achievements recorded by the teeming youth in the field of sports and Digital skills”, Dare said.
The Minister reiterated Government’s commitment to staff welfare with a view to motivating them for optimum service delivery to Nigerians, adding that “we will do our best to see that we impact on the face of youth and sports development in Nigeria”.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Ismaila Abubakar, stated that the meeting is held to enable the Ministry assess the level of achievements so far recorded in respect to its mandate and the identified priority areas,stating further that, the current meeting is to review performance within the year 2019, when the second edition was held and now.
He therefore called on staff to urgently articulate strategies and map out time lines that will enable the achievements of goals and objectives of the priority projects and improve performance within the youth and sports sectors in line with the policy thrust of the present administration.
While presenting awards of excellence to the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development and the Permanent Secretary; the Chairman, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, (FMYSD Chapter), Comrade Musa Abba, on behalf of the staff of the Ministry thanked the Minister of Youth and Sports Development and President Muhammadu Buhari, in particular, for the various initiatives put in place towards the development of youth and sports in the country.
He further expressed the loyalty and commitment of the staff towards the realization of the Ministry’s vision and mandate.
Gernot Rohr cannot be sacked without recourse to contract terms –Senate committee chairman on sports
The chairman senate committee on Sports and Youth Development Senator Obinna Ogba has cautioned sports enthusiasts who have been calling for the sack of the Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr to exercise some patience.
Speaking after defending the 2022 budget of the ministry before the senate committee on appropriation he said, sacking of a coach is not as easy as they think because it is a contract.
Many Nigerians were not impressed by the supper Eagles lacklustre performance in their last encounter with Cape Verde which ended in a goal apiece for both teams
Hence, sports enthusiasts have been calling for his sack without further delay.
Continuing, Senator Ogba said,
“Yes so many persons have called for his sack, it needs to be discussed because there was an agreement with the sports operators in football.
“There is a way you will sack him, if you don’t pay him certain amount of money FIFA will ban Nigeria and when they ban us you will complain, why not allow football operators discuss the issues by finding a way out.
“Mind you, part of the agreement is for him to qualify you for Nations cup and he has done that no matter how he qualified.
“The next thing is the world cup and it is still on. For me I am not Amaju Pinick who is the president of NFF but I am also a board member and I can tell you authoritatively among us many have asked that he steped aside but it is not something you say for saying sake.
“It has to be a discussion, meetings, so many things to be taken into consideration even if it warrants sacking him, we sack him if otherwise we allow him be.”
He debunked the insinuation that there is crises in sports.
“In every situation some persons may like something, others will not like it but we have to look for the best.”
On the budget of the ministry he said it is very inadequate adding that something needs to be done about it.
According to him the N5b earmarked for the ministry can not take the ministry anywhere
Youths and sports ministry gets N140b approval by FEC
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has given approval of the sum of N140bn for the development of the Youth and Sports sector.
This was happening on the heels of the presentation of the National Development Plan Succession on Economic Recovery Growth for year 2021 – 2025 by the Ministry
Director of Press and Public Relations
Mohammed Manga in a statement quoted the Honourable Minister in charge of the ministry Mr. Sunday Dare as having made the disclosure wednesday in his Office in Abuja, when he received the report of the Ministerial Committee on Restructuring of the National Youth Games (NYG).
He explained that the ministerial committee was set up to review the flaws in the last edition at Ilorin and to further re-strategize as well as proffer solutions that will make future versions more dynamic and result oriented with a view to giving grassroots sports development a boost.
According to him, the Federal Executive Council’s approval which is, first of its kind in the history of the Ministry, is a confirmation of the present administration’s commitment to the development of the Nigerian youth as well as its recognition of sports as a business in the country.
He stated that, the National Development Plan will inject Eighty Billion Naira (N80bn) into Sports Development and Sixty Billion Naira (60bn) into the youth sector for the next four years.
The minister indicated that the Ministry had discreetly set up the Ministerial Committee on NYG to take a critical look at the last edition of the youth games, identify flaws and make recommendations that will bring about a turn-around in grassroots sports development in the country.
“NYG speaks to grassroots sports development as the bulk of those who go for sports festival are discovered from there. If three of the hundreds of talents seen at Ilorin are picked up, they can bring a lot of honours to the country in future international games”, the Minister said.
He explained that the recommendations of the Committee will serve institutions, stressing that, “When grassroots sports is gotten right, every other competition will find its bearing as it will boost the discovery and development of future talents in the field of sports in Nigeria”.
The Minister also indicated that he had written to the Nigeria Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to assist the Ministry on the issue of age cheat during the games.
He noted that the Ministry had zero tolerance for any form of cheating or doping in sporting competitions and as such will leave no stone unturned in nipping it in the bud.
While commending the Committee for a job well done, the Minister applauded the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for its commitment to youth and sports development in the country, stressing that the resources allocated will ensure a re-consolidation for the sector in the next four years.
He added that the Committee’s recommendations will be processed immediately annd applied in preparation for a better outing in the NYG holding in Kano next year.
Speaking ealier, the Permanent Secretary, Alh. Ismaila Abubakar assured that the Ministry will continue to provide an enabling environment for the proper utilization of the resources deployed by the Federal Government for the development of our teeming youth through various government initiatives and sporting activities in the country.
He commended the present administration for its commitment to the development of Youth and Sports as part of efforts geared towards the socio-economic growth of the nation.
Also in his remarks, the Chairman, Ministerial Committee on Restructuring of the National Youth Games, Alh. Abba Yola, stated that part of the committee’s recommendation includes the need for inclusion of private sector funding strategies for a better National Youth Games in the country.
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