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AFN chases overseas sponsors for Golden League

Athletics Federation of Nigeria has gone global, in its search for sponsorship for the ‘Golden League’ series billed to start May 6 in Kaduna.

Race to the finish... Nigeria athletes eking out a career at the Golden League.

The League is modeled after the IAAF Diamond League and the AFN is hoping that the prizes at stake will attract the best of Nigerian athletes home and abroad. But while the Diamond League is commanding sponsorship from multinationals, Nigerian athletics officials have been knocking on the doors of prospective sponsors and now according to Sunday Bada, the federation’s technical director, the search has been extended to the global circles.

“We have made contacts with some international concerns. These include some of the sponsors of the IAAF Diamond League.

“We are hopeful that they will buy into our proposals. And of course we are looking forward to organizing a golden league that will be highly rewarding to the athletes,” Bada said.

He disclosed that the federation is working towards the successful running the first of the ‘Golden League’ in Kaduna even as the AFN is not sure of where the funding will come from.

“We are seriously working to get funds for the Kaduna meet. Between now and that time I’m sure that something will come in,” said Bada.

The ‘Golden League’ is the only competition available to Nigerian athletes. Last year the federation struggled to keep it afloat, thanks to the resourcefulness of its president, Solomon Ogba, who dipped into his pocket and pressured political and business associates to provide funding.

Amata bemoans bugs infested landing foams

Nigeria’s number one high jumper, Dorren Amata is aiming to make a great comeback to the field, after responding to the call of motherhood.

Amata who was speaking in Lagos however, revealed that her plans to defending her 2007 All Africa Games title at the Maputo 2011 Games are being thwarted by lack of facilities to train with.

“We have no landing foams to train with. Even the only one available is worn out and bugs infested. “When you land on it, it sucks you in rather than bounce you up. Athletes are afraid to land on it because it is capable of causing injury.

“To make matters worse, we can’t even have this foam for training. The National Sports Commission liaison office at the National Stadium Lagos refused to release it to us. We were told that the AFN is owing them some money,” Amata lamented.

Amata missed all of the 2010 season, after she took time off to get married and make a baby.
“I’m back and training hard so far, my only regret is not having equipment to work with. For instance I have only used the landing foam once this year and that was during a competition at the All Comers meet in Sagamu,” said the athlete who holds the 1.89m national record in the high jump.

Amata made her international debut at the 2007 All Africa Games in Algeria. She took the gold right under the noses of South African athletes who were favorites to clinch the gold. She was the first to clear the bar at 1.89m and this pushed South African Anikta Smith to the silver position, while Marcolean Pretorius settled for bronze.

Stop neglecting athletics, coach tells NSC

Athletics coach, Tobias Igwe has called on the National Sports Commission (NSC) to end the perennial neglect of athletics in the country.

The coach was speaking against the back ground of calls by former vice president of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria and NSC director, Elias Gora for the AFN to start its preparation for the All Africa Games even as funds are yet to be released by the commission towards that effect.

Igwe, one of Nigeria’s most respected athletics coach, sounded that athletics has always given Nigeria a positive image at the world scene, but over the years it is still the same story of inconsistency and late preparations of athletes for international events.

“We are supposed to be in an advanced stage of preparations for the All Africa Games, yet there is no sign of activities. There is no money for athletics, but at the same time there is money to camp the footballers who are equally preparing for the Games, why not extend the same treatment to athletics?

He gave kudos to the president of the AFN for keeping the sport going, otherwise athletics would have grinded to a halt.

“If not for our president that has been sourcing for funds, we wouldn’t have had competitions. He brought out money for the All Comers Meet and the recent Junior Championships that we had. The NSC should pump money into athletics and not leave it to the board members to do what they like with it,” coach Igwe stated.

Last year the National Assembly approved a grant of N50m for the AFN and other Olympic sports federations. But according to officials, that money has remained only in their dreams.

“What is that money compared to what is given to the football federation. We have to spend more if we are to get our athletes into world reckoning,” stated the coach.


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