Winter Olympics and Dalung's double standard on Sports development

By Ikenna Okonkwo on 10/02/2018

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The winning team

So much adulation, admiration and indeed celebration expectedly followed the qualification of three bold and resilient Nigerian girls including Ngozi Onwumere, Akuoma Omeoga and Seun Adigun who qualified to be at this year’s Winter Olympic Games scheduled between February 9 and 25 in faraway PyeongChang, South Korea.

By picking the rare ticket to feature at the Games, the trio who earlier this week stormed the country’s commercial nerve centre, Lagos to honour their fatherland before heading to the venue of the real contest, gave Nigeria a new face in the global sporting fraternity. 

With their sweat and ‘hard-earned’ resources, these lads went, saw and conquered. Thereafter, the support they are getting from Nigeria seems encouraging.

However, what this recent development points to is that; the dogma of a laissez-faire style of a typical Nigeria system should be faced out. The truth is that, no amount or level of attention paid to human development is too much in a society where frustrations leading to all sort of bizarre response abound.Image result for team nigeria at winter olympics

At one time or the other, those in charge of administering sports in Nigeria take steps to discourage upcoming athletes. Their focus is mainly on elite ones who over time paid their way through in attaining stardom.

On this column last week, I reminded Minister of Youth and Sports Dvelopment, Barrister Solomon Dalung of how he assured sporting community of his resolve to pay greater attention to grassroots sports development with a view to harnessing abundant ‘wasting’ talents spread across over 180 million population in the country.

I drew his attention because of an obvious difference in the developmental promises which came directly from him. Today, the body language and obvious action of this same Sports Minister speaks otherwise. He mainly jumps at every slightest opportunity to travel out of Nigeria and catch a glimpse of a ‘foreign groomed’ Nigerian athlete instead of spend more time to consult and carry out grassroots programmes or take practical steps that would stand him out from the rest (those that have occupied same position he is enjoying today).

Apart from always flying from one part of the world to and spend his entire time with athletes who qualified for one sporting event or the other from Nigeria, Minister Dalung equally delight in chasing after abroad-based Nigerian athletes.

His quest to constantly travel recently, triggered him to convince Nigerian government on why tax payers’ money was spent only for the Plateau-born Minister to galvanise delegation that accompanied him to watch boxing fight between Anthony Joshua and his Cameroonian opponent in London towards the end of last year.

The number one sports man in the country went on the supposedly jamboree that has little or no meaningful contribution to Nigeria’s sports development, at the expense of over 30 sporting federations that go cap in hand looking for funds to flout their programmes locally, continentally and at the international stage. Their approvals never go beyond ordinary ‘bureaucratic’ paper expression... guess you understand what I mean?

Image result for dalungBarr Dalung

The presence of Barr Dalung at 2016 Olympics in Rio, few months after he was appointed Minister was conspicuous throughout the event as perhaps the only sports leader from any other country who stayed glued in Brazil from the day one of that competition till the very last day.

Let the truth be told. What Nigeria’s sporting architecture has been lacking and yearning for is a proactive approach in discovering and keeping burden abilities. Instead of glowing in overseas trips or tours in the name of going to boost the morale of athletes, in the case of an Olympic outing, Chef de Mission and other accompanying officials are enough to heighten the confidence of a whole contingent, so far the needful - allowances, bonuses and any other financial obligations are met.

If not, more Nigerians will be left with no option than to continue to scramble on each other in search of sporting greener pastures. I’m sure that who is who in the Nation’s sports including Dalung watched the likes of Christine Ohuruogu, Ezinne Okparaebo, Morolake Akinosun, Courtney Okolo, Edidiong Odiong, Femi Ogunade, Oluwakemi Adekoya, Keturah Orji, Ayomide Folorunsho, Barbara Nwaba, Anyika Onuora and Paola Ogechi Egonu competed for their respective adopted countries such as Italy, Bahrain, United States, Qatar Canada among others.

Image result for team nigeria at winter olympics

Nigeria-born Francis Obikwelu who won silver medal for Portugal at the 2004 Athens Olympics is always on the lips of Nigerians. Again, before Obikwelu, Nigeria had lost a precious medal when current President of Nigeria Wrestling Federation, Daniel Igali representing Canada at the 2000 Sydney Olympics won a gold medal in the 62kg Lightweight freestyle wrestling.

Countless number of them. Talk of Gloria Alozie who has represented Nigeria and Spain, Marilyn Okoro, Oluseyi Smith, Tiffany Porter, Cindy Ofili, Ayodele Ikuesan, Samuel Francis, Josephine Onyia Nnkiruka and a host of others were lost to other Nation due countless number of reasons ranging from nepotism, poor incentives, lack of infrastructure, motivation etc.

Anyway, developing the sports sector can only make deeper sense if genuine approach is deployed.

To Bobsled Team Nigeria at 2018 Winter Olympics, go, soar and write your names in gold!

Image result for team nigeria at winter olympics


Source Whirlwindnews

Posted on February, 10 2018

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