May 11, 2015

Defusing the Okagbare time bomb

Defusing the Okagbare time bomb

Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare celebrates winning the women’s 100m athletics event at Hampden Park during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland on July 28, 2014. AFP PHOTO

By Paul Bassey

I love track and field. Truly I do. I regret the football madness and infection that prevents us from paying more attention to this sport that has the potential of wiping away our sports tears.

As a Consultant to Mobil for the AKS/NNPC/MPN Schools Athletics Championships for the past fourteen years, I have been exposed to the AFN big guns who have always kept faith with the championship, always sending a strong delegation to the finals in Akwa Ibom.

The last time I checked, I was a member of the Marketing sub committee of the AFN, yet I stand accused of not helping the sport enough in the area of publicity and exposure. Last week in this column, I was happy to write about the botched trip of our youth to Mauritius and prayed for the guarding against a re occurrence. In that piece I postulated that we were stacking all our athletics eggs in the basket of Blessing Okagbare.

File photo: Okagbare during female long jump at the 2012 London Olympics

Two days later I stayed awake with my wife to watch the World Athletics relays in Bahamas as Blessing led out our 200 metres relay quartet. When my wife saw the Americans and Jamaican and the Bahamas teams she lost hope and prayed for a bronze.

I told her that you never can tell. That one of the favourites may just be involved in a faulty baton change drama and pronto, we could land with a silver. How prophetic.

The next morning the newspapers went to town, celebrating the prestigious gold, some of them on their front pages. Less than twenty four hours later, the bubble burst when Blessing took to the social media criticizing the AFN and claiming glory for selecting the quartet themselves, that if the officials had done so, they would not have won.

I smelt the proverbial rat. Something was definitely amiss. Was Solomon Ogba no more the President of AFN? Was it not the same Blessing that the Delta State Government courtesy Ogba had milked to stardom? I started making calls.

While I was at it, Blessing released another bomb, accusing the AFN of sacrificing grass roots development of the sport, of neglecting Nigerians and fielding “ foreigners” in their places, foreigners who were not better than the Nigerians they had displaced especially as regards age and potentials.

When did the romance between Chief Ogba and Blessing end?

My first reaction was that it was an act of indiscipline for Blessing to go to town with the news that the athletes chose the team themselves ( Coach Gabriel Okon has since come out to debunk the claim)

Secondly, if Blessing felt so bad about the “foreigners” why did she “pick” Duncan ………to run alongside her. Her sight offended me. Green lipstick, tattoo all over her body….very un -Nigerian and nobody’s role model. ( Again I was told that she may not have had a choice, not forgetting that she had even threatened to drop the baton before the race)

Meanwhile the AFN has threatened disciplinary action against her. Softly…..softly……

Depending on who you talk to, the AFN-Okagbare story has a twist. Of passports, sports festivals, adopted Nigerian names etc. What is however evident is that we have to tread carefully, very carefully as this issue is capable of blowing the Federation to smithereens.

My happiness this morning is that the Sports loving governor of Delta State His Excellency Dr.  Emmanuel Uduaghan has decided to step into the matter. If there is anybody Blessing will listen to it is Dr. Uduaghan.  Thank you sir.

On behalf of Davidson Owunmi and the Warri Wolves team I am also thanking your Excellency for the timely release of funds to get the Wolves on their way to Congo for their crucial Confederation Cup tie against A.C. Leopards.

That Mayweather victory

Last week I came out here screaming blue murder, accusing the American judges and referees of conniving to rob Manny Pacquiao………my phone never stopped buzzing. Readers for and against transferred the debate to my ears and we debated heatedly.

However when I listened to Dr Rafiu Ladipo and Trigo Egbegi, masters in the “noble art of self defence” I have come to the total agreement that Mayweather won the fight. Another look at the match under a relaxed atmosphere has heightened my current decision.

Recent happenings  have also made me to rebuke Manny. If you knew you had a bad shoulder, why did you fight? Those who paid millions to watch are asking for their money back. I wish I can ask him to refund the cost of the diesel I used to fuel my generator throughout the duration of the fight.

Linus Mba on Cloud 9

The NFF Consultant on refereeing and FIFA Referees Advisor Mr Linus Mba is on cloud Nine.

The press has been awash with news of good refereeing by referees and Linus Mba is a happy man. Mba as member of the NFF Referees committee spends his life grading and training referees and the icing on the cake for him was the sending of referees on human capacity training to  Britain and the decision to institute the Referees Assessors programme.

At the Sports Veterans Association, Nigeria annual get together on Sunday, Mr Mba seized the microphone to thank the Pinnick Amaju led NFF for the innovation even as he attributed the commendable showing of the referees on the hard work being done by the Alhaji Fresh led Refereees Committee and the new leadership of the NRA with Tade Azeez in command.

He promised that all the stakeholders will not relent in flushing out the bad eggs in refereeing and called on them to be of good behavior henceforth. Can we shout Hallelujah.

See you next week.


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