By Tajudeen Ahmad
(AGS, OSUN SWAN)
General Secretary of the Nigerian Olympics Committee (NOC), Mr Tunde Popoola has blamed the continuous decline in Nigeria sports to poor facilities, inadequate funding as well as leadership problems, saying if these challenges are not tackled headlong, the development of Nigeria sports will perpetually remain at apogee.
Mr. Popoola, while answering questions from members of the Sports Writers’ Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Osun state chapter during their monthly stakeholder’s forum which held in Osogbo, observed that all categories of sports in the country should be properly funded while those who head all federations and sports ministries should be chosen from the field of sports.
The Oke-Ila born former international hockey player stressed that developed countries of the world are always successful in sports due to huge investment in the game vis a vis private contributions which according to him, is germane for the growth of sports.
He said what is required of the government is to provide enabling environment and platform where sports can thrive, adding that all federations should be independent enough, well managed with the experienced leaders who are expected to work in accordance with the government’s policy on sports.
The NOC scribe maintained that all successful Nigerian athletes must be praised for their unrelenting and personal hardwork, dedication, commitment and patriotism because the country has not lived up to expectations in terms of funding, facilities and welfare of athletes, which are some reasons why many Nigerian athletes switched allegiance.
“We must commend those who have won laurels for Nigeria at the national and international levels because they achieved this not on the platter of gold but by the dint of hardwork. Some of them spend their personal money to buy sporting equipment required for training, camping, preparation and even embarking on self sponsorship to participate in some events.”
“Government at all levels should do more in terms welfare of athletes and their coaches and ensure that adequate backup is provided for federations, who should also be financially independent to be able to run its activities successfully”, added Mr Popoola.
While calling on those at the helms of affairs of sports to ensure that adequate preparations are made for every tournament Nigeria will participate in, Mr Popoola assured that the Nigeria Olympics Committee has been fine tuning every arrangement that will facilitate the successful outing of Nigerian athletes at the forthcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.