By Ikeddy Isiguzo
WORLD sprint sensation Usain Bolt last week received a cheque of $8.9 million from a Digicel, his local sponsors. Shelly-Ann Fraser, world women’s champion got $1.78 million. The total of $10.68 million were bonuses for their performance in the season that has just ended. This money is not the support that the company provides for Jamaican athletes.


Bolt has been with the company since 2004. Last year, Bolt got $1.8 million, from the same company after trimming the 100m record to 9.72 seconds in New York.

Let us keep the figures in perspective a bit. Bolt’s bonus (from Digicel alone in 2009) is about N1.39 billion, more money that the entire Nigerian contingent had for the 2008 Olympic Games in Peking (Beijing) China.

What this also means is that Digicel would have been ready with a plan for the 2010 season, the Jamaican Federation has a plan, and Coach Glen Mills, a coach with the federation for more than 30 years, is weighing the options.

After a review of the programmes for 2010, especially the Commonwealth Games which run from October 3-14 in New Delhi, India, Mills and his team are already at the challenges that the Games pose for Jamaican which is expected to dominate the sprints.

It is too late in the year  is the beginning of training for the indoor season, members of the Jamaican team, who are in school have indicated their possible absence, pleading conflicts with academic programmes.

In 2004, Bolt failed to make it out of the preliminary round of the 200 metres at the Athens Olympic Games, while a year later in Helsinki at the World Championships he was eighth in the 200m final. Bolt hailed Digicel for their early support at a time when things were not going very well.  “Thank you very much for supporting me through the rough times … now I am just rewarding you,” he said.
Bolt would be accorded the nation’s fourth highest honour, the Order of Jamaica and Highway 2000 would be renamed after him.

I am relating all these to Nigeria and wondering if we are participating in the same 2010 Commonwealth Games that the Jamaicans have started planning for, and if there are sponsors in Nigeria who would splash a winning bonus of N1.38 billion, and which Nigerian runners and coaches would post the spectacle that can be called the Jamaican Experience (apologies to Jimmy Cliff, whose reggae sensational band was so named decades back) and a government that can motivate its citizens with small measures like national honours (that have meaning) and street names.

Partnerships between athletes, coaches, federations, sponsors and the media can get great results, when there is responsible leadership around them.

29 Days To Lulu’s Threat
NOTHING prepared me for another piece, so soon, on Mallam Sani Abdullahi Lulu, President of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, who has threatened not to abide by FIFA command that all players for the FIFA U-17 World Championship, which Nigeria host 29 days from today must undergo the MRI to determine if they are under 17.

Condemners of Lulu’s loose talk note that he added to the national embarrassment. Lulu has indicated that he would be a horrible host. He has also served notice that he would present unqualified players for the competition.

He would play by his own rules, not FIFA’s.
I do not know what Lulu is planning. It is however important for our collective good to save Lulu from further decimation of respect Nigeria earned over the years. He has only 29 days to execute this threat against FIFA. I wish him abundant luck.

Your Mails
SANI Lulu have been nursing that ambition since last year but the God that we serve will never let it be, Can you see how people like Amanze Uchegbulam and Taiwo Ogunjobi have become demi-gods?  I am available for whatever action we can take to weed these people out.

Today we do not have an under 17 team. The NFF as presently constituted MUST GO.
Abdul A. TIJANI, Lagos,

IF NFF was a business, the directors would have been fired long time ago. Unprofessional administrative set-up has set Nigerian football back 100 years. It will be a shame if Mallam Lulu and his cohorts return to run Nigerian football again. Poor Sports Policy + Incompetent NFF + Clueless coach = Shambolic Super Eagles, says my 11-year-old nephew.
Oluwashina OKELEJI, BBC Sport Correspondent, Nigeria,

I LOVE the phrase “calculator optimists.” I can bet you that if you peep into the credentials of most of those calculator optimists, would reveal they scored at best a P8 in mathematics. Most of our sports editors/journalists are incurably patriotic and as such they feed the Nigerian sports fans/readers with exaggerations. Sani Lulu has no reason remaining in office after the September 6 mess. The press should ask for his resignation. Coach Shuaibu Amodu is not a sacred cow. He must go.
Afam ANENE, Ph.d,

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