It will not be out of place to say Nigeria by now should be discussing how best to go about the next Olympic games which will be taking place in far away Asia continent, Tokyo to be precise in the year 2020 if Team Nigeria really want to make much impact as often expected at the quadrennial global sporting events.
In a nutshell, Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), the body in charge of the games in Nigeria by all standards should have been up and be doing, making contacts with would-be sponsors and holding meetings with the stakeholders as regards the necessary steps to be taken ahead of time.
However, it’s a known fact that late disbursement of funds often times leads to late preparation is a syndrome which at the end of the day has brought untold disappointment to the athletes and Nigeria as a nation. Of all Olympic games that Nigeria has been participating in, London 2012 and Rio 2016 have been the worst of them all so to say with just one medal to show for all the efforts, the money and time invested in it gone down the drain.
It is when the people in the affairs of our sports failed that they always remember to go to the drawing board. If the board had not been strong enough to accommodate them, the drawing board would have broken into pieces no doubt.
Countless of sports retreats have been held but, all to no avail. Not a single solution from the so called retreats has been implemented since they’ve been holding them. All they enjoy doing is lavishing tax payer’s money unnecessarily, all in the name of holding a retreat to find a lasting solution to the unending failure at the global events.
It’s not as if these sports administrators really don’t know what the problems are but some saboteurs among them feel that’s their own way of getting their own “national cake” and therefore they must scuttle whatever solutions that’s being brought to the table by sweeping them under the carpet leaving the hope of athletes of making positive impacts both on the continent and the world at large hanging in balance.
Meanwhile, the sources where athletes are discovered and nurture to greatness are no longer in place functioning (National Sports Festival, School Sport Federation and YSFON), have been abandoned with no young and fresh blood to replace the tired legs and hands which is one of the reasons why we’re lagging behind as far as sports is concerned in Africa.
But this time around, drastic steps must be taken to look into the cause of late disbursement of funds and put up a new and better process for the next one in Tokyo to be a success when the games starts in earnest if the ministry of sports and Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) don’t want the repeat of recent Olympic games debacle.
Aside that, School sports, National Sports Festival and other relevant sporting events must urgently be revisited so that we’ll not continue to rely on ageing athletes who no doubt have not only represented their fatherland but also brought pride and honour to the nation.
More and more competitions must be put in place and attended to further expose them which will enable them to compete favourably where and when necessary.
Yusuf Ali, Sunday Bada, Chioma Ajunwa, Mary Onyali and Fatima Yusuf are all products of school sports or the other and sent abroad on government scholarship where they have the best of education and training and in return gave their best that brought honour and pride to the nation. Today, the rest is history.
The federal government still has all it takes to do all these and Nigeria will be back to its glorious day as the “Giant of Africa”. Paying attention to the welfare of the athletes is also very paramount as this will go a long way in checkmating incessant changing of allegiance by our groomed athletes to another country which does not portray Nigeria’s image in a good light in the international community.
Emphatically, China, United State of America, Russia, Australia, Japan and some other African countries don’t joke with getting themselves prepared when it comes to events of this magnitude. Despite the fact that success and failure are same seven-letter words, most of these countries understand the words better and also know the one to associate themselves with.
Michael Phelp, Usain Bolt, Gabriel Selassie and the rest of them didn’t just appear from nowhere to dominate the world scene, these athletes and the governments of their respective countries have been paying undiluted attention to their sports at every point in time.
The government in most of these aforementioned countries understands and sees sports as a diplomatic weapon and the results are there for them to show the world.
Having said this, the impacts of sponsorship in any events cannot be underestimated considering what the parties involved stands to benefits in terms of economic as well as bogus social status.
It however, behove on the government to find a way of dragging corporate organisations into sponsoring the epoch-making sporting events and ensure that whatever that’s released for such project are used judiciously for the purpose for which such was raised and in return pay back such organisations through a tax rebate.
Any erring sports administrators who failed to do what is expected of him or her or trying to sabotage the effort of government must be duly punished to serve as a deterrent to others who might want to perpetrate such act.
Nestle Food Nigeria, Cadbury Nigeria, First Bank Plc, Promasidor, Guinness Nigeria Plc, Coca-cola and some other organisations are some of those that have contributed in their little way in the recent past and they’ll always want to be associated with success like everyone would want to.
Tokyo 2020 is just three years away from now, United State of America and some other countries will not wait till the last minute before they start preparing for the next one. Those are the countries that never fail to plan while those who plan to fail will still do.
It’s high time we do away with a fire-brigade approach of doing things that often times have adverse effects on both the athletes and Nigeria as a whole.