It is a little known secret by now that Nigeria’s loss is Britain’s gain when it comes to Anthony Joshua. The story goes that he was turned down by Nigeria when he wanted to represent the country of his parents at the Olympic Games. Going down that lane may or may not have set him on the extraordinary path that saw him defeating Klitschko last night, but by God, any achievements he would have made (and there would have been plenty) would have been under the Nigerian banner. Instead, we are left with famzing a British-born, British-trained athlete. Once again.
Today, in football, we have many young talented British Nigerian kids who’d love to don the green-white-green and emulate the likes of Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi by playing for Nigeria’s Super Eagles. It’s fantastic to see the current football federation management reaching out to them. We need to tap into this huge pool of UK born Nigerian talents and potential world beaters (and same in the US too) who truly want to rep in green.
We keep talking about reverse brain drain; getting Nigerian talent to work best for Nigeria. In order for this to happen, we have to give the young ones something to aspire to; something to make it worth their while. Come and play for Nigeria? So that you will have to train yourself? Or pay for your own transport to get to Brazil or wherever the next Olympics might be held? Stay in Nigeria and build world-class technological infrastructure? Or fly out at the earliest possible opportunity and work for Google or Facebook?
Anthony Joshua is just one example of how Nigeria loses DAILY. For every potential not realised, for every dashed dream and hope, it is the nation that loses. For every greatness that is ascribed to another nation, the giant of Africa shrinks more and more, and the rot deepens.
Congratulations once again, Anthony. And congratulations to Great Britain who saw potential and nurtured it.
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