BY OKEY NDIRIBE, Abuja
Former African 400 metres champion, Innocent Egbunike has been appointed the Chief Coach of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN). This was disclosed in Abuja yesterday by the President of AFN Chief Solomon Ogba while speaking on AFN’s newly adopted structure and programme ahead of the London 2012 Olympics.
Under the new structure, the country has been divided into six zones with two coaches incharge of each zone. Among those appointed as zonal coaches are Ado Maude and Charles Yayok for North-West; Mohammed Kolo and Grace Ishaku for North-East; Steve Nuhu and Olu Sule for North-Central.
Others are Falilat Ogunkoya(MON) and Yusuf Alli for South-West; Tom Uwakwe and Uchenna Emedolu for the South-East and Gabriel Okon and Tony Osheku for the South-South.
Ogba stated that the new arrangement was aimed at reviving athletics in the country adding that the new coaches had been charged with the responsibility of fishing out talented athletes from different parts of the country.
He further stated that the new structure was to enable AFN surpass the nation’s achievements in the 2008 Olympics.
On preparations for the London 2012 Olympcis, the AFN boss said the nation had already qualified for several track and field events such as the four relay races, the men’s 100 metres dash and 400 metres hurdles.
He further stated that the AFN was also tinkering on a target reward system for local athletes adding that any local athlete who met the standards set by the athletics body would be appropriately rewarded.
The AFN boss also stated that the athletics body had put together a programme for Nigeria’s foreign based athletes adding that national trials for athletes would no longer be an all comers affair.
He further disclosed that the final list of athletes who would represent the nation at the Olympics would be ready next June.
In a bid to improve officiating in national events, Ogba said henceforth, only certified individuals would be allowed to officiate in AFN-organised events.
He further stated that the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) was ready to assist the AFN with some of its officials to train track judges in the country.
On funding, Ogba said the AFN intended to raise funds to execute its programme for the year, and stated that the board would be proactive in generating funds adding that even though AFN had not received any financial support for preparations towards the Olympics, the body had already ensured that many athletes qualified for the forth-coming global sporting fiesta.
He expressed regret that no allocation was made to AFN last year for preparation towards the 2012 London Olympics.