New Telegraph

Agenda for new Presidents of Sports Federations

The elections into the boards of sporting federations took place on Thursday, September 30 in Abuja with the majority of former federation presidents being returned into office. There is a crisis, however, in the Nigeria Basketball Federation as the election has now been fixed for October 30. We are aware the NBBF dispute has been swinging back and forth over the past few years.

The Athletic Federation was also not part of the election since the AFN just staged its own election in June this year, shortly before the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. And so, Dayo Akindoju was returned to continue his leadership of the tennis federation just as same goes for Engineer Ishaku Tikon (table tennis), Daniel Igali (wrestling) and Boye Oyerinde (squash). Some of the new faces are Kelvin Ehizigie, elected as the president of the Gymnastics Federation, Dr Musa Oshodi (judo), Sam Ocheho (handball), Otunba Segun Runsewe (golf), Dr. Ademola Are (rugby), Gen K. Minimah (boxing), DR. Ibrahim Aladi (weightlifting), Saidu Abubakar (taekwondo) and interestingly, the former Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State, Silas Agara, emerged head of the Karate Federation of Nigeria.

We appreciate the ambition of Akindoju, tennis federation president who is targeting qualifying Nigeria into the World Group in Davis Cup Tennis. This is a very good move if he can match his words with action in concrete terms. He said: “Our players in the senior cadre cannot give the federation the desired result to climb up the ladder in the Davis Cup. We will focus attention on the development of our junior players to grow.

With time, the junior players will grow up and advance the federation to a high level. “We need to work hard to return to the World Group and with the needed focus on the junior players, we will bounce back to where we rightly belong.” We expect other federation bosses to come up with their agendas for their tenures which will be used to rate them later after the end of their fouryear tenures. We frown at the business as usual attitude of most of these presidents who will cry out that their federations lack the financial muscle to execute programmes.

They must think out of the box in order to secure the necessary funding in order to stage events. There must be concrete developmental programmes aimed at transiting the athletes from one stage to the other until they get to the senior level to represent the country at global events.

We make bold to say Nigerian sports administrators’ misplace their priorities on many fronts. They seem to chase the shadows and neglect major issues affecting the development of sports in the country. In this age in which sports is big business and so much is deliberately invested in it (sports), there should be efforts geared towards boosting sports at the grassroots so that more youths can be in the developmental process of each sports discipline to give hope that in future things could be better than they are currently.

It is very sad that in recent times, the sports’ federation Presidents are not bothered about the number of competitions they stage in a calendar year, rather they want to attend international competitions that will earn them ‘estacodes.’ The quest to be at the Africa Games, the Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games are the cardinal points of many of the federation top shots.

They show more concern for the qualification of athletes for continental and global games simply because of what it will bring into their pockets and not for the love of the country to be represented at the events. It is as bad as that. In the past, federations made public their programmes for a new calendar year in which most of them staged at least six senior and three junior competitions during this period. For example, table tennis and tennis staged not less than 10 competitions every year in the 90s and they moved round the country as if they played in the European circuits.

There was a cycling event sponsored by a soft drinks outfit which used to take cyclists to about 10 states of the federation every year. Presidents of federations should think about how our sports can come back to that level to give the young ones a brighter future.

They must think of how to woo sponsors who will help to stage more competitions to develop the athletes. The Olympic Games have a four-year circle which many top countries use to prepare but for us we only get serious six or even three months to the event.

The next Games, billed for France, will be coming up in three years’ time in 2024 and it means efforts must be doubled to begin to prepare the athletes from now. The first task is for these federation presidents to start work on athletes that can meet qualification standards for the next Games and get corporate organisations to sponsor national events and also take them to major events abroad including qualifiers so that the country can do well in France. There must be a deliberate effort to stage more competitions in all the sport disciplines in the country. This will bring out more hidden talents which the federations could also nurture to stardom through exposure.

While wishing the newly elected federation presidents the best they should all, however, remember that ultimately at the end of their tenures they will be judged by how many events they were able to stage and how such impacted on the overall development of the sport in the country.

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