By Ben Efe
For most Nigerian athletics coaches, the US$12,000 paid to two American-born coaches monthly by the Sports Ministry is a waste considering the fact that the duo and others who are assisting them have not made any difference to Nigerian athletics.
The issue of their continued stay as coaches of the high performance centre in Abuja, came to the fore after Nigerian athletes failed to measure up to world standard at the recent African Championships in Durban, South Africa.
According to veteran coach Tobias Igwe, a.k.a Toblow, the American coaches and their Nigerian assistants are not living up to expectations in the face of the huge amount paid them.
“Give me US$12, 000 a year and I will give Nigeria world champions. This is because rather than help our athletes improve at the so called high performance centre in Abuja, the reverse is the case.
“In 2015 some of the athletes who trained with us in Port Harcort did well, only for their performances to be dipping when they got to Abuja,” said Toblow.
He argued that coaching was a real problem in Nigerian athletics aside the lack of finances to run their programmes.
“Let us put sentiments aside and look at those who can deliver for the country,” he added.
Also speaking was veteran coach Seigha Porbeni. He submitted that the right coaches are not handling Nigerian athletes in international competitions, hence the dip in performance by some of the athletes.
“It is rather sad that we couldn’t measure up in our areas of strength at the Africa Championships. This was down to our preparations. Our athletes were not at their best as the coaches who went with the team would want us to believe.
“For instance look at Patience Okon George who was running 50.00secs in 2015, she is now doing a 52.2secs. Eriyokan Urukpe who did 44.00secs at the Africa Games in Congo, was practically bed ridden because the coaches who handle him failed to understand his body mechanism.
“In the women long jump, Ese Brume, despite a strong tail wind, could not reproduce the 6.83m they claimed she jumped before the championships.
“And can you imagine because of the poor preparations and coaching, our women’s 4x400m team couldn’t even do a proper baton exchange.
“The change over between Patience Okon George and Regina George was not smooth and that allowed the South Africans to take advantage. And we have coaches here at home who could have done better managing those kids,” Porbeni argued.