By Fidelis Ebu
Sports Minister and Chairman, National Sports Commission, Engineer Sani Ndanus, has expressed fears that if nothing was done fast to reposition the Olympic Sports in the country Nigeria may not achieve the target of being one of the top 20 sporting nations of the world by the year 2020 even as he disclosed that the revised national sports policy as endorsed by the National Council on Sports was approved by the Federal Executive Council at its meeting of Wednesday, November 18 this year.
Ndanusa made the declaration Tuesday while addressing the Presidents of the national sports federations at the media centre of the Abuja National Stadium.
He noted that the sports administrators are in a dilemma to reposition Olympic team in the country for there to be a sign of getting to the destination, adding that the way things are and with few years to the Vision 2020 where there are probably only two Olympic Games left, â€œthe dream may be far from realizationâ€.
The NSC boss however stated that a place has been secured as the countryâ€™s camp site in London to prepare for the 2012 games.
He advocated for the federationsâ€™ support to reform Olympics in the country, arguing that they are the critical stakeholders and the major avenue by which sports development can effectively work in the country.
According to him, the responsibility to project the country to the outside world through the organisation of the recently concluded FIFA Under-17 World Cup took a toll on him as he was bedded in it for the past four months but was elated that the end result was worth the hassles.
â€œIt was as if I neglected other sports for the past four months but that was not the true position. I was bedded in the organization of the recently concluded FIFA Under-17 World Cup, which was more than a football event because we used it to project the country to the outside world and I want to tell you that it remains the biggest and best projection the country has ever had as the participants left with wonderful impressions on the country.â€
The NSC Chairman also noted that â€œit is the responsibility of the federations as critical stakeholders and field soldiers of sports development in the country to rise to the occasion and ensure that sports is taken to the heights it deserved by making sure that we do the right things at the right time to move sports forwardâ€.
Regretting that the country has not won any gold medal in the Olympics for the past eight years, Ndanusa noted that â€œthe onus behooves on the federations to re-fashion the way of ending this medal droughtâ€.
He maintained that being the major instruments that can move sports forward in the country, â€œthe federationsâ€™ presidents should be in a position to say how far their federations have gone since the last six monthsâ€, and added that he was impressed with some of them who have really made great impact.
The meeting which was prompted by the state of affairs in sports as the Nigeria Olympic Committee prepares for its elections next month had 21 federations presidents, including the minister who doubles as the Nigeria Tennis Federation president, in attendance while the president of Nigeria Volleyball Federation who doubles as the outgoing NOC president, Habu Gumel, was represented by the federationâ€™s Vice President as he was said to be out of the country.