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Coaches speak on way forward to international reckoning

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Some coaches in Lagos State have advised the Federal Government to embark on an aggressive talent hunt and exposure of athletes to international competitions, to avoid another woeful performance in the 2016 Olympics.

The next Olympic games will be staged in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The coaches who spoke on Wednesday in Lagos blamed Team Nigeria’s inability to win any medal at the just-concluded London Games on maladministration and inadequate preparation.

In separate interviews with the coaches, they said that sports administrators relied too much on foreign-based athletes, at the expense of the home-groomed ones.

They also said that lack of equipment and welfare packages for the home-based athletes also contributed to Nigeria’s dismal performance in international competitions.

Kehinde Ajayi, Technical Director, Lagos State Tennis Association said  that athletes discovered from grassroots programmes should be given international exposure.

He said that Nigeria had budding talents who can win laurels in international competitions, if they were given the right training and some international exposure.

“We have athletes with lots of potential in this country who could win international laurels, but we misplace our priorities and that is our problem.

“If we expose our athletes to international competitions, they will always excel and win medals for us,” Ajayi said.

An assistant coach with the Judo Association, Patrick Ifamoru, said that lack of preparation was responsible for athletes’ dismal performances.

He said that if athletes were camped early, it would help them to understand what they needed to do and as such, it would boost their performances.

He also alleged that organising secretaries who had no knowledge of sports were dictating the pace and by so doing, they unwittingly retarded sports development, adding that things usually went well whenever coaches were in charge.

“Nigeria is used to the fire brigade approach to preparations, but we must also learn to give coaches some opportunity to  play a pivotal role in sports development,” Ifamoru said.

Coach Joseph Izibili, Technical Director, Lagos State Cycling Association, said that bad administration was responsible for Nigeria’s inability to win laurels.

He said the many of those administering sports today were not sports lovers, saying that they usually mixed politics with sports, resulting in declining fortunes.

“Sports is not being administered properly; if we can be able to surmount this problem of maladministration, I bet you Nigeria will go places in international competitions,” he said.

The Head Coach, Lagos State Squash Association, Wasiu Sanni, said that the performances of the old, recycled athletes were not giving the desired results.

He also said that officials accompanying athletes to foreign trips should be looked into because many of them were just fun seekers, who would not ordinarily do what was expected of them.

An Assistant Coach, Lagos State Amateur Boxing Association, Wasiu Bisiriyu, said that many athletes were not usually picked on merit, but because of their influence.

“I believe that if the right athletes are selected, based on their performances, Nigeria will win more medals in international competitions,” Bisiriyu said.

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