November 24, 2013

Furore over high performance coaches

By Ben Efe

Nigerian athletics coaches were taken aback by the appointment of Angie Taylor and Eric Campbell as coaches who will run the high performance programme being envisioned by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN and bankrolled by the National Sports Commission, NSC.

Sports Minister and chairman of the NSC, Bolaji Abdullahi on Tuesday in Abuja unveiled the American born coaches to Nigerians. He stated that Taylor will head the high performance programme that will produce medal placing positions in various Olympic sports, while Campbell will be performance director of the AFN.

Some of the Nigerian coaches who bared their minds on the development expressed regrets that a Nigerian was not considered for at least one of the positions when there are capable hands. They called to mind the Minister’s position when the Nigeria Football Federation hired Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet as technical director.

“I do not know the yardstick for these appointments. I will discuss with my fellow coaches to examine the situation,” said Nigerian Coaches Association president, Gabriel Okon.

Hurdles coach, Maria Osifo said that it was shocking, adding, “Time will tell,” if those were the best choice in Nigeria’s quest to reposition athletics.

However, AFN board member, Olukayode Thomas said in Lagos during the week that the appointments of Campbell and Taylor were not a whimsical decision by the sports minister. He submitted that many Nigerian coaches applied, but it was down to the consultancy firm that handled the applications to make the choice.

“It was the consultancy firm that handled the appointments. Applications were received from all over the world and Nigerian coaches also applied in numbers. There was no under the table dealing in the process.”

He added that the AFN was carried along in the recruitment drive. “The AFN president, Solomon Ogba was present when the interviews were being conducted in London.”