Barely a week to the start of the 17th National Sports Festival, athletes from Kebbi State have expressed anxiety over the likelihood of their participation in the games.
The anxiety of the athletes stemmed from the non release of funds by the state government for their participation.
The athletes and officials, who have been training at the Haliru Abdu Stadium, Birnin Kebbi, wore gloomy looks at the uncertainty of their participation in the festival when NAN visited the stadium on Tuesday.
The festival will hold in Port Harcourt from June 27 to July 11.
A member of the Kebbi State sHockey Association, Bello Umar, explained that the players had imposed levies on themselves to raise the funds for their training, adding “we qualified in hockey at the eliminations but our efforts appear to be in vain”.
“The state participated at the hockey event at the bi-annual fiesta 22 years ago and now that we have striven to qualify funds have not been released and our dedicated players are demoralised,” he said.
The weightlifters were seen training under a tree on a improvised wooden stage with no modern equipment.
Ttrack and field and special sports athletes were also seen running without training shoes.
Some of the athletes lamented that Alhaji Abdullahi Gobir, the new Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Sports and Youth Development, had not even visited the stadium to assess the situation.
Gobir said that the N28million required by the athletes for camping, feeding, purchase of equipment, transportation, medical and allowances had not been released by Gov. Saidu Dakingari.
Ogun boxers make Maputo list
Four boxers from Ogun have secured tickets to represent Nigeria at the 10th All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique, in September. David Osuolale, Secretary, Ogun State Boxing Association, who disclosed this on Tuesday in Abeokuta, said that the boxers emerged tops at the trials held in Ibadan.
He named the boxers as Waheed Sogbamu, 60kg; Kehinde Ademuyiwa, 69kg; Lukmon Lawal, 75kg and Fatai Balogun, 91kg.
The boxers from Ogun had at the National Open Championships in Ibadan won four gold, three silver and three bronze.
Boxers from 15 states and from the Nigerian Armed Forces took part in the national trial. Osuolale said Seun Taiwo, who won silver in Ibadan, had also been invited to the national camp for the Maputo Games.
He blamed Nigeria’s poor performance in boxing at the last Commonwealth Games in India on lack of exposure and chided the Nigeria Boxing Federation for not organising training tours for the boxers.
He noted that if the boxers were exposed to training in countries such as Cuba and Korea, they would have done better.
The states, he said, had been doing their best at the grass roots to produce good boxers and advised that the focus should be on improving their skills by exposing them to modern techniques through foreign training.
Bauchi athletes ‘beg’ govt for funds
With less than six days to the opening of the 17th National Sports Festival in Port Harcourt, Bauchi athletes have appealed to Gov. Isa Yuguda to ensure the release of funds for them to participate in the competion.
The athletes, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Bauchi, also said that they learnt that the money budgeted for their camping and participation in the festival had not been released.
They told NAN that they were uncertain about participating in the Games as they had not been called to camp.
They said that 200 athletes were expected to represent the state in the different sports at the competition but that many of them had already started complaining about non-payment of their three months training allowances.
One of the athletes, Halilu Maiyaki, said though they had in the past contributed to sports promotion in the state by winning trophies, it seemed the government’s interest in sports had waned.
“We have no other state than Bauchi, my friends and I have brought so many gold medals in various competitions before.
“We have won trophies for Bauchi State but it looks like our efforts are not being appreciated by the government.
“Otherwise, why are our allowances for three months being withheld,” he said.
Other athletes, James John, Isaiah Luka and Ahamadu Yohana, all expressed worry over the late preparations for the competition.
“There is nothing on the ground to show that Bauchi is going to participate in the Games and we only have a few days left.
“We are not even in open camp talk less of the closed camp so, how can we be ready for the festival without training properly,” they said.
They blamed lack of proper information to the government on the importance of the Games by the former advisers,to the governor on sports at being responsible for the problem.
The athletes were not having any training organised officially but were on their own.
Some of them were training by themselves in the hope that within the few days left for the Games to begin that something would be done.
Officials at the Ministry of Youth and Sports refused to comment on the development, saying the Bauchi State Sports Council was the right body to speak on the matter.
When NAN asked the Director of Sports, Malam Haruna Bako, to comment, he promised to invite NAN to his office to explain the issue but did not.