Nigeria in the Olympics have suffered a painful blow of leaving with no medals. But our lack of medals in these 2016 Rio Olympics is totally deserved. What the nation has invested in sports facilities or in training athletes over the last 20 years is laughable.
We are like the man who gives his wife N200 to cook for a week, and expects Oha soup, edikaikong, efo riro, groundnut stew, egusi, all served with steaming hot iyan or delicious eba. Is it any surprise if he get tomato and pepper flavoured water, with limp spinach plucked from the garden?
We have not invested in our athletes. We don’t have world class facilities for them to train in. We don’t have world class coaches to train them. We don’t have structured programmes that identify talented kids who can be guided via training and sports scholarships. But still we constantly expect miracles.
I wrote about this in 2012 (when Nigeria won ZERO medals at the London Olympics), and again I am writing along the same lines.
In serious nations, preparations for the next Olympics games begin almost immediately after the current Olympics end. Sporting facilities are built and/or upgraded. Coaches are sent on courses. New equipment is provided. Athletes begin training and preparing for competition.
If we want to win real medals in 2020, the work needs to begin now. Dead wood in the Ministry who have been there for decades need to be cleared out. Investment in facilities, equipment, coaching etc must start now.
And the corporate sector needs to get involved. Most nations do not pay their athletes. Athletes often fund their daily living and equipment from their own pockets or sponsorship. Corporate sponsors are needed to fund our up and coming athletes. Barclays Premiership League, anyone? Vodafone, Natwest and Investec have all sponsored English rugby at some point or the other.
Dalung has been in office for nine months. Expecting him to turn round poor training, lacklustre coaching, unmotivated athletes and crumbling facilities within that time period is unrealistic. He inherited no foundation of preparation. However, he must work on getting the nation ready for the 2020 Olympics. If that job is beyond his capabilities, then he should resign or be fired.
The nation needs a Sports Minister with steely cojones and the gritty determination to do the hard work needed. ~ Bucky 2016
** I have edited the post to reflect that Nigeria also won no medals at the 2012 Olympics as many peeps seem to have forgotten how deep/and long the rot is.
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