…Says her loss in Tokyo was unexpected

Speaks on plan to lift wrestling become among top three spots in Nigeria

By Solomon Nwoke

Bayelsa state Youths and Sports Commissioner and President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) Hon. Daniel Igali says his target is now to see the country produce an Olympic and World Championships gold medallist in the next three years, after Blessing Obourududu won a historic silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

By winning a silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 Games, Oborududu became Nigeria’s first-ever medallist in wrestling at the Olympics, since the country’s first participation in the sport in 1980.

Under Igali’s watch, Nigeria has won three World Championships medals (2 bronze and a silver) – a feat achieved by Odunayo Adekuoroye, claimed five Commonwealth Games gold medals and also produced multiple African champions, to mention but a few.

In this interview, Igali spoke about sports in Bayelsa state. Excerpts

Congratulations on your successful re-election as Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) President and also your appointment as the Commissioner for Sports in Bayelsa state.

Thanks alot

How have you been coping with the tasks of running Sports in Bayelsa and the Wrestling Federation?

Yes, being the Commissioner for Youth and Sports in Bayelsa basically means that you’ll deal with all sports in the state. And being the president of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) means that you’re also dealing with sports, but in this case, it is wrestling at the national level, the whole country.

So it hasn’t been too difficult essentially, because the state government supports my efforts quite alot. They essentially adopted the Nigeria Wrestling Federation as their own. The governor has been very magnanimous and very supportive.

So, in my view it helps with the work I do here. With respect to my job as Commissioner for Sports in Bayelsa State, it’s been a very rewarding experience , it’s been a lot of fun. You know when you work well, you’re comfortable working and when you’re working with a boss who has implicit trust in you and even with your supervisor, as the Deputy Governor who has enormous respect and trust in the work you do and you have that seamless working relationship and synergy with them, you can’t complain. Infact you don’t look at it as a job, it’s almost like a hobby. So I am having a lot of fun.

How is sports in Bayelsa state since you assumed office as the Commissioner for Youths and Sports?

Sports have seen very drastic and dramatic results as you know. The governor, from inception has taken sports as a priority. Of course, he was a former Commissioner for Youth and Sports. So he understands where things are, where we need to be in the next four years and hopefully, eight years because we have implicit confidence that he will serve out his first Four years and with the track record so far, we believe he will have the opportunity for another four years. So we do have our plans for the short and long term.

Things have started manifesting. We went to the National Sports Festival (NSF) in Edo between March and April and we were able to place third position, the first time ever in our history. The feat was not happen-stance at all, it was deliberate because the moment the governor came into office last year he ensured that some of the priority projects were set in motion, we were given alot of attention and we were able to deliver some of the deliverables that he had already earmarked.

So we came third for the first time in our history and we also for the first time in the history of this country we won the Aiteo Cups in both male and female categories, Bayelsa United and Bayelsa Queens. We went to the Continental for the first time in a very long time because the last that we played continental championship was in 2011.

Even at the National Youths Games, Bayelsa came fourth. We don’t put too much emphasis on the young athletes between the ages of 13 or 14 years winning medals. For us, it’s more of growing up process.

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