By Paul Bassey
So much has been said and written about the recently held elections into the various sports associations in Nigeria.
My view is laced with disappointment, shocked at a system that I thought was going to bring about a change, only to draw us back many years.
I believed in the modalities put in place by the sports ministry. I agreed that those powerful secretaries who took directives from the National Sports Commission, NSC, and undermined the board members should henceforth be appointed on merit and subjected to the boards of the various sports.
I knew that all the attention given to football was because other sports were not living to scratch. In fact, most of them were as good as dead and buried.
After the disgrace at the Olympics and the anger generated in the land, including the Presidential condemnation, I was one of those who clamoured for the complete overhaul of the NSC. That from all indications, the NSC was peopled by human beings who had outlived their usefulness, bereft of ideas and had reached a cul de sac as regards progress and productivity.
We then soft pedaled and made a case for the new sports minister who could not have been part of the rot, since he came in to inherit all the painlessness that predictably resulted in the London disaster that we all saw coming, except the leadership of the NSC.
We said the minister could not have been guilty. The guillotine was meant for those who in their false and bizarre calculations deceived that gold and other medals were going to be won aplenty.
So, we encouraged the retention of the minister and advised him to clean the Augean stable. He was to set up a machinery for the review of the Olympics from where the way forward will be charted including an emphasis on development and grass roots sports
Surprisingly, whereas the Presidential sports retreat was held, ( Still awaiting the findings ) the culprits as it were, were let off.
I switched my hope to the impending elections where I was very sure that those Presidents and members who messed up at the Olympics had no chance in hell to return. I was sure they were going to be booted out and fast too…Surprise …..Surprise…When the results were announced, the same people who in the last ten years, (some of them more) held our sports by the jugular and hemorrhaged it have been returned.
This, is disastrous and a great draw back for our sports.
For the past three weeks I have been hooked to tennis on the DSTV Network and every time I do, I see South Africans holding their own in the circuit, I see young tennis players ages seventeen, nineteen breaking loose on the world stage and I ask why we do not play tennis in this country? Who, will revive our tennis?
Every week end I watch live boxing matches in South Africa. I do not want to talk about cricket, rugby, basketball…just name it. What ever happened to the Grass hoppers hand ball team of Owerri?….Where is Eddy Aderinokun’s type Volleyball revolution? The world is developing and practicing sports, not Nigeria. I repeat that to have returned those who over the years dragged our sports into oblivion is the greatest disservice to this country. People who should be tied to sports stakes and shot.
Sponsorship and partnership have become taboo, seminars, clinics and grass roots development programmes are not initiated. Do they even meet as boards? Pray what manifestoes did these individuals present to warrant their return to office? It may be unfair not to say that the Athletics Federation of Nigeria has had articulated programmes over time, including the hosting and winning of the 1st African Youth Championships in March. Which other sport? I stand to be corrected.
The way it stands, no hope in sight, none, even as the next Olympics looms large.
Edwin Clark Invitational hots up in Uyo
Last week end another competition was added to the Nigerian football calendar when the Edwin Clark U-18 international tournament kicked off in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State with eight teams in attendance.
King Amachree Sportive of Benin Republic, Pepsi Football Academy from Lagos, Greater Tomorrow sports Academy of Akwa Ibom, Yenogoa City Football Academy, Delta Stars, Rangers Junior of Enugu, Amakson of FCT and Super Nova Academy of Rivers State were part of an impressive ceremony last Thursday that saw the attendance of ex Super Eagles players Samson Siasia and Peter Rufai.
The final is slated for Saturday May 25 a day that coincides with the birth day of Chief Clark. When it comes to age group and development, count me in.
I thank Chief Clark for initiating this competition and kudos to Governor Akpabio for bank rolling the first edition.
….OF KANU AND OKWARAJI.
Last week, while lauding the exemplary offer of fifty thousand US dollars to the Super Eagles by injured Emenike, I wanted to find out whether we have had such selfless acts before by Nigerian players who have an history of insisting on their estacodes even to the point of threatening “ no show” if their conditions are not met.
Then came this text message from Toni Ekiugbo ( 08037250922) arguing that the Late Sam Okwaraji and Nwankwo Kanu should be singled out and commended, the one for selfless service, the other for putting back into the society.
I promised him his view will be published.
See you next week.