Lagos – For Nigeria to improve on its current rankings in sports generally, it has to deepen its search and grooming of skilled athletes with grassroots tournaments, a sports administrator has said.
Olatunji Fasimoye, Vice-President and Technical Director, Nigerian Rugby Football Federation (NRFF), made the assertion on Tuesday in Lagos while speaking in Lagos.
Fasimoye urged federations to deepen their search for skilled athletes by creating discovery tournaments and programmes that would unearth the talents at the grassroots.
He said that development of sports in the country was dependent on the creation of such programmes to discover skilled athletes.
According to him, the grassroots had a rich goldmine of talents yet to be discovered and who are skilled enough to rewrite the nation’s international rankings in various sports.
“We are gradually getting to see the end of the present generation of athletes and the need for a new generation who will replace and surpass the heights we have reached.
“Unfortunately, most sports authorities do not have plans ahead of time to ensure that a new guys take over so we don’t drop the standard of the game when the old ones retire,’’ Faimoye said.
Fasimoye said that the Ministry of Youth and Sports should focus on supporting already existing programmes and creating avenues to search for new breed of talents.
“We have always been a great nation to reckon with in having quality athletes who represent us in various competitions.
“I am becoming optimistic that we may be on our way to living in lost glory if we do not create platforms to not only support and train upcoming athletes, but to retain them,’’ he said.
Fasimoye hailed the developmental programmes of the NRFF in partnership with organisations for the grooming of players and pleaded with the authorities to replicate the same ideas in their federations.
“In recent time, we have had great reduction in the number of foreign-based players we use for competitions in rugby because we built the capacity of the home-based.
“This did not just come into existence by fate but a decision to pick talents back home and train them instead of losing the athletes to naturalise and play for foreign countries.
“If each federation draws a new programme to achieve this same goal, I bet you, our smiles as the best top 10 countries with great athletes won’t be a farfetched reality,’’ he said.