Nigerian sports is billed for a new dawn if the promises of the newly elected presidents of the various sports federations are anything to go by.
Speaking to the media shortly after their elections, the federations’ bosses assured Nigerians that the bad days are about to end, and promised to turn their federations into medal factories for the country.
The newly elected President of the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF), George Ashiru promised that the country would witness a drastic transformation in the game, assuring that apart from grass roots programmes, his board would target gold medals in the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and World Championships.
“As former champions, we know what it takes to create champions and we will put it together. The truth about the Olympics is that it is the highest level of Euro space when it comes to sports. If we do have a micro-plan and start it on time, there is absolutely no reason we cannot change the colour of the bronze medal we won in the previous Olympics.
“Incidentally, I was the manager of the team that won bronze. I know what it took us to get there and we are going to do better now. Baring all unforeseen circumstances, there is no reason we cannot have more than one medal in the next Olympics. If Nigerians are looking for one gold, it is possible we can look for four.
“We have to set high standards because it will push us higher than we are going. Don’t forget we have Commonwealth Games and World Championships. There are many tournaments to win medals. So, as long as we have enough funds to give our athletes continual exposure, sooner or later, they would rise to the top,” he assured.
In the same vein, Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) president, Solomon Ogba said, “I am happy to get another four-year mandate. The good thing is that we made appreciable progress in the last four years, which many can attest to.”
“Our new mandate now is to consolidate on the gains of the last four years, try to get Nigeria to winning ways and take sports to the grass roots. Part of the arrangement is that every state must be directly involved. I have always maintained that the federations don’t own the athletes. They come from the states or clubs.
“The federations are like the factory while the states provide the raw materials. Imagine what will happen to the factory without raw materials. Our emphasis is to take it back to the grass roots and the states must be involved. There must be programmes in the states. The results might not be in two years but five years. We must however start something.
“I have been to Ekiti, Lagos, Delta, Kwara for junior championships, what I saw in these places gave me the hope that talents are in this country and if we do the right thing, Nigeria can get back to winning ways again. The immediate challenges we will face now is to ensure that many sports councils start functioning,” he added.
“The reality is that there are not enough competitions to push the development programmes. We have to ensure that the coaches are working. Yes, the federation has worked hard in the last four years, but it is now time to take it to the next level. We will prepare for the Commonwealth Games next year and hope to get back to the medals table.