Nigerian sports administrators misplace their priorities on many fronts. They seem to chase the shadows and ignore or neglect major issues affecting the development of sports in the country. In this age in which sports is 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 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 ‘estacode’. The quest to be at the Africa Games, the Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games are the cardinal points of many of the federation topshots. When you see them show concern for qualification of athletes for continental and global games, MOST of them do this because of what it will bring into their pockets, 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 every year. 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 drink 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. While the basketball federation remains in limbo, it was not a surprise that the majority of former federation presidents were returned as the elections into the boards of sporting federations took place on Thursday, September 30 in Abuja. Dayo Akindoju was returned to continue his leadership in the tennis federation just as same goes for Engineer Ishaku Tikon (table tennis), Daniel Igali (wrestling), Boye Oyerinde
Some of the new ones 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, former Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State, Silas Agara, emerged head of Karate Federation of Nigeria. Already, Akindoju of tennis is targeting the world group in Davis Cup Tennis. “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,” the tennis boss said. That is the way to go as I expect other federation bosses to come up with agenda for the tenure which will be used to rate them later after four years.
Alaiya’s exit, a rude shock
In this profession it is normal to have people you move with, rub minds, discuss, evaluate and project future together as friends of a group. Ben Alaiya, who died during the week, was one of the five sports journalists in my clique. Tony Ubani (Vanguard), Ben Memuletiwon (Crest) and the late ThisDay Sports Editor, Emeka Elechi, were the other three. The five of us were to work with SportsDay, which Alaiya managed till death. It came as a rude shock that Alaiya left us on Tuesday. We used to call him, ‘Ben a liar’ and so when I first heard the news, I said it was a lie until it was shockingly confirmed. It is indeed a cruel world that this jolly good fellow had to exit us this time but we cannot question God. He was a very brilliant professional who had great love for his family. At every international trip, Alaiya would buy various things for all his kids and the wife. He was a vibrant journalist and this manifested during his time as the Super Eagles Media Officer. As Alaiya joins Elechi, fondly called Biafra, I pray God continues to keep the rest of us and grant them eternal rest. Good night, Ben Alaiya!