By Onochie Anibeze

Last week, in concluding my column, I asked for contributions on how we can achieve excellence in the sports that we are endowed. The column was my reaction to Bozo, a South African who agonised over Nigeria’s continued superiority over South Africa in football. I felt that we should lament more for South Africans are doing well in the sports that they are endowed while same cannot be said of Nigeria. The following are some of the contributions. I left out some which didn’t have names.

Sadiq A Abdullahi · St. Augustine NC

I am responding to your January 24, 2014 article: Why we should lament more than South Africans. The central point of the article seems to be that South Africa has done a good job planning, organizing, administering, and investing on sports that have comparative advantage. Why can’t Nigeria do the same? Can we transcend mediocrity in sports administration and management?

The National Sports Commission (NSC), working from a report submitted by McKinsey and Company, has identified six sports (Athletics, Weightlifting, Boxing, Wrestling, Shooting and Football) as “endowed.” NSC has swiftly hired high performance directors to organize and supervise the activities of the selected sports. All indications point in the direction of planning, organizing, and supervising as the nation prepares for the Commonwealth Games in 2014. One of the functions is to oversee the development and provision of high performance programmes, develop and manage a sport science/medicine program, monitor the implementation of priority performance action plan, and provide progress report. The organization, planning or preparation of the high performance center will require the newly appointed directors to be accountable, transparent, and equitable.

What can we do to reach our potential in the sports (Athletics, Weightlifting, Boxing, Wrestling, Shooting and Football) that they said we are endowed?

We have to begin the process of rebuilding our six sports at a time. The high performance directorate offers the opportunity to improve on our organization, planning, and execution. We have to believe that we turn the problems facing our sports around. The organization and planning to win the CHAN competition may offer hope for the future. Good luck in South Africa.

Onwuemeuwa Juli, STC NSUKKA

I hope and believe that sooner or later, we shall reach the peak in sports,football inclusive. Managerial ability and administration of sports are never a tea party.

Barney Esiet

Until we attain our full potential in democracy,good governance, transparency and nationhood, we cannot attain your dream peak in sports.

Esan Oluyomi · University of Ibadan

Thanks ….that Jamaica can dominate athletics is a shame to Nigeria… Where are we? would you call Jamaica a developed country? How come they produce Usain Bolt and the rest….We really need to stop glorifying being local champions

Ngwu Mathias ·  Lautech Students Website

Remember, Mr. Analyst, when you don’t attempt you don’t expect success. Therefore,we shall get there some day.

Thenjiwe Obong

First, we must stop the corruption that is practised in every facet of our lives. Secondly, we must stop nepotism. Only qualified athletes should be selected not because of where there are from but on merit. Thirdly, we must encourage our athletes to do better even if they fail the first time. Sometimes, it takes more than one try to reach your goal. If these three things are done, we will excel in all the sports that we are endowed. Thank you for bringing this issue up, Onochie Anibeze.


Well, I have written on the way forward for our sports many times. I’ll never be tired of repeating myself until we get it right. I have written on how to develop our league and make it very professional. The League Management Company, the new league administrators, are trying to implement many of what I had written in the past with regard to setting standards for clubs and not registering the ones that do not meet the standards. TV friendly stadia, club management, security, professional contracts for coaches and players, feeder teams or youth teams etc.

I have said that we will never get it right if we don’t take sports back to schools. Schools must have sports curricula and must have sports facilities as we had them in the past before our nation fell sick in almost all areas.

Parents must recognise the great potential sports creates in health and wealth and not only encourage their children who have talent in sports to take to sports but also ensure, through PTAs, that schools develop sports facilities and culture.

For this to work, Local and State Governments must take huge interests in sports. They could supervise the schools and also develop programmes that could produce athletes for the Federal Government, through the National Sports Commission, to take over and nurture them into elite athletes.

There must be a systematic approach to encourage private sector participation in the development of sports. Companies that sponsor sports should enjoy tax rebates and the media must also contribute in building the system by promoting the ideals of private sector participation, ensuring that companies that invest in sports enjoy due visibility professionally. They should also ensure transparency in the management of athletes, condemn bad policies, corruption and mismanagement of athletes in all ramifications while commending positive actions. .

The school system will be such that schools including universities can begin to award sports scholarships.

These can come under headings such as Schools, Local and State Governments, The Federal Government, The Private Sector, Professional Bodies and Sports Associations, Sports Administration and Sports Media.

These bodies have responsibilities to organise funding of sports, training of officials including coaches, referees and managers of sports and athletes, facilities etc. The details cannot be accommodated here. But I’m sure that if we take sports back to schools, provide facilities in our education institutions and send coaches to discover and develop athletes there, we would have provided the platform to reach our potential in the sports that we are endowed.

The sports minister has tried to engage coaches and instructors. He has started national school games and thrown the Sports Festival Open. He means well but the work is enormous. We will not achieve much without Local and State Governments doing their own briefs. We will not achieve much with the kind of funding sports receives now. The corporate bodies will be more willing to come into sports when we have stars who can endorse their products and services. So, government must set the pace first.

We will not achieve much if we don’t develop our coaches and sports administrators and use the right personnel to run sports in the area of administration and coaching. I recognise and appreciate foreign experts. But how far are we using the good hands that we have? That is another question, this time to the authorities.


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