NATIONAL SPORTS FESTIVAL SPECIAL: Lagos ‘snatch’ Cross River’s American coach
By Ben EFE
Lagos State, inflicted the unkindest cut on their Cross River counterparts when they snatched renowned athletics coach and former world 400m record holder, Lee Evans who has been spearheading Cross River’s grassroots athletics development programme.
Coach Evans worked with Cross River State for almost three years, but a few weeks to the National Sports Festival, he jumped ships claiming that Lagos had offered him a better package. His action it was gathered hurt like a knife to the Cross River governor, Liyel Imoke who wanted coach Evans to be sued for a breach of contract, but later changed his mind.
Speaking on the development on Wednesday night, coach Evans who is no stranger to Lagos, having worked with Nigerian athletes in the 70’s said he did not breach any contract terms and his conscience was as clear as crystal on the matter.
“Lagos state is treating me better. It is more like home to me having lived here before.
“I had no problems walking away from Cross River. I did nothing wrong or is there anything wrong when I had no contract?
Coach Evans submitted that money was not his main reason for leaving Cross River State. “I have the chance to discover more athletes in Lagos, than I would in Calabar. We are not just talking about the National Sports Festival, but the 2016 Olympics.
“In Cross River you have only 2.5m people, but Lagos is more populated and there are chances of seeing more talents,” said the coach.
However, he was accused of treachery by Bruce Ijirigho, the coordinator of the Cross River grassroots development progromme.
“Coach Evans stabbed us in the back. It was not true that he didn’t have a contract with us, I have documents to show where he signed.
“I traveled out of the country to arrange for our equipment only to find out that he left. He didn’t even had the courtesy of giving us notice. He was nicely treated in Calabar with a car and house to himself, he was not owed any salary,” said Dr. Ijirigho.
He added that the coach had wanted to lure some top Cross River athletes and coaches to Lagos, but they rejected his overtures.