Jigawa and Adamawa state have emerged winners in the girls and boys categories at the just concluded Savannah Conference of the 22nd Nestle-Milo Secondary School Basketball Championships held at the indoor sports hall of Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano.
Government Secondary School Numan, Adamawa State defeated their Kano counterparts, Government Girls Secondary School, Shekara 20-8 to emerge winners in the female category.
In the same vein, Dutse Model International Secondary School, Jigawa state defeated Nigeria Tulip International College, Yobe state 51-23 in the boys final to edge out their opponents.
Speaking at the finals, the Category Development Manager Beverages, Nestle Nigeria Plc, Funmilola Oyewole, said, Milo brand in Nigeria has been in the forefront of the development of grassroots sports in the country.
She emphasized that the Milo Secondary School Basketball Championship had played a crucial role in grassroots sports development in Nigeria and Nestle was committed to sustaining the development.
The manager added that the competition started with 500 schools in 1999 but is boasting of nearly 10,000 schools across Nigeria on yearly basis.
Oyewole said the winners would play in the national finals in Lagos later in the year.
Team Adamawa’s star player, Puiami Dickson, won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award in the girls category while Benjamin Ishaku of Team Jigawa won the award in the boy’s category.
The winners went home with a trophy as well as N125, 000 (boys) and N100,000 (girls) each while the runners up received N75,000 and N60,000 respectively.
Meanwhile, the cadet championship didn’t end with allegations of age cheating levelled against some of the participating teams.
A basketball coach attached to one of the participating states said “This is the worst Milo championship ever held.
“The organizers have done a bad job. They did screening where some players were weeded out as over-aged but surprisingly, these set of players found their way back and played for their states. That led to the messy state of the competition.”
Our correspondent also gathered that a top official of the School Sports Federation shielded over-aged players from his state from being penalised as stipulated.
Our source said “It is sad for very senior officials from the school sports federation to support what led to the whole problem. Players from his state were discovered to be over aged but he covered them up.
“Some of the over-aged players are former students of the schools even as the rules are clear that this competition is specifically for students not above SS2 class. The spirit of the competition has been compromised by those who are trying to win at all cost.”
The Deputy Director of Sports, Kano State Ministry of Education, Kabiru Shehu, also accused most states of featuring over-aged players.
He alleged that apart from his state, all other participating states paraded over-aged players.
However, one of the organisers who spoke to Daily Trust on Sunday on condition of anonymity said most of those who made the accusations were bad losers.
“You have been around and you saw how everything went. We did our best to stage a hitch-free tournament. People who lose will always find something to complain about,” he said.