By Ikeddy Isiguzo
THE All Africa Games, the 10th edition of which begin in Maputo, Mozambique, tomorrow, mean a lot to Nigerians, particularly those who were old enough to experience the second edition that held in Lagos 38 years ago. The Games appear to have passed the early uncertainties over future hosts, after the exceptional delays that we saw in Nairobi with the Games billed fro 1982 holding in 1987 – five years late.
Egypt (1991), Zimbabwe (1995), South Africa (1999), Nigeria (2003), and Algeria (2007) have all run on schedule, providing stability for the Games and giving Africans a unique chance of a pre-Olympic meet event months to the Olympics. The All Africa Games remain unique. While continental Olympic bodies organise other continental Games, the All Africa Games belong to the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa, SCSA, a creation of the former Organisation of Africa Unity, OAU, now African Union, AU. The All Africa Games begot the Pan-American Games. After hearing about the Pan-African Games whilst on a business trip to , – diplomat got the idea to create the
Nigeria has participated in every edition of the Games, starting from Congo Brazzaville in 1965. Results have varied, but they have always shown that Nigerian chances are wasted at home through poor preparations. We seem keyed to never preparing well enough.
From finishing second in Brazzaville, we were second again in Lagos, and in Algeria behind Tunisia, third in Kenya, Zimbabwe, second in South Africa and fourth in Algeria behind Egypt, Algeria and South. For the first and only time, Nigeria finished first at the Games in Abuja in a hotly contested race against Egypt, easily the most successful country at the Games.
The top three countries on the all-time Games medals table are 431 gold, 328 silver, 320 bronze; 303 gold, 277 silver, 256 bronze; and 198 gold, 174 silver and 137 bronze. South Africa’s performance is remarkable as it began participating in the Games in 1995, finishing tops. It is the only country in the all-time top 10 that was not at the Games from 1965.
Preparations for the Maputo Games have not been the best. The teams did not get the usual pre-Games training tours and it remains doubtful if there are ambitions to get anywhere close to previous results.
Politics of winning has dominated the Games fro some years. The major problem in this direction is the provision that allows hosts to dictate some of the sports that are included in the Games. Host countries choose sports in which they have higher chances of winning. In some sports like weightlifting and wrestling, some countries have manipulated the fixtures to exclude weight classes of their choice.
The redeeming factor in these manoeuvrings is that the Games have since 1999 become one of the qualifying platforms for some sports at the Olympic Games. The involvement of the international federations of some sports has moderated the unwholesome moves of some countries.
Another challenge for the Games has been how to manage the events of the sports for the physically challenged sports. While at the Olympics, the Paralympics are held in the same city after the Games, sports for the physically challenged run concurrently with the Games. It is pure economics – no Africa country can afford to run the Games separately.
The inclusion of sports for the physically challenged on the medals tables have proven controversial. Unlike other events where the regulations are simple, the sports for the physically challenged have many gaps that make their pliable to manipulations.
Maputo is will bee thoroughly challenging. Our sports are in disarray on several scores. The non-qualification of our two football team will unfortunately deny the team to Maputo attention, not minding that some of the competition would be vying for spaces at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Team Nigeria will glad to finish among the top four in Maputo – for the type of preparation it had, a worse position is anticipated.
Re: How Are You Nigerians?
IT is sheer foolishness and stupidity for you to devote such time writing this sort of nonsense. During Obasanjo’s regime, did you not see him come to the stadium to watch the Super Eagles play during Tunisia 2004 Tournament? If Goodluck Ebele Jonathan did not care about them, you will still be the one that will castigate him. Anywhere, let us just say you wanted to show us that you are a prolific writer but next time use a more sensible and reasonable subject and stop being parochial and sadistic.
Ochonma Egwu (no address supplied)
OUR President should not have wasted his time talking to the players and their officials before the game against England. Their quarterfinal crash from the competition showed how unprofitable the President’s venture was. Such presidential pep talk belonged to the days of General Sani Abacha.
DJ Oscar Jnr , Enugu
I MAY appear hard on Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, but it is out of expectations from a President who is educated and has promised to run a “transformational government.” I do not want to compare him with Chief Obasanjo who promised nothing except “it will no longer be business as usual.” Do we equate a “transformational government” to the ones Abacha and Obasanjo ran?
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