FG to support federation relying on homegrown talents
by Oviri Kelvin, Sports Editor, Abuja
The Honourable Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has assured that his Ministry will continue to support sports federation relying on homegrown and local talents to challenge for diadem in sports competitions The Trumpet gathered.
According to Dare, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is committed to promoting and consuming all made in Nigeria goods and services and as such the ministry will always throw its full support behind any federation that explores homegrown talents.
Dare, who made this statement after the 3rd AFN All-Comers’ event held at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, where he praised several Nigerian athletes excelling in track and field events while setting new records, defended that it will be counter-productive to this administration’s promises to Nigerians to do otherwise.
He said, “While we celebrate these victories, have we asked how it has impacted on the development of the sport locally. President Muhammadu Buhari is an advocate of us eating what we grow, wearing what we produce and use talents we develop and nurture at home.
“We in the Sports Ministry will not deviate from this, doing otherwise will be counter-productive,” Dare reiterated.
In the report released by the ministry, Dare recounted the efforts Nigerian athletes and the federation are putting into the sport to ensure they engrave their mark on the international scene.
He noted that Johnson Nnamani, Egbuchilem Raphael Chimezie, Ezekiel Nathaniel, Favour Ofili, Rosemary Chukwuma, Alaba Akintola and Favour Ashe among others displayed standout performances at the 3rd AFN All-Comers in Abuja and the Collegiate Circuit in the USA.
He added that teenagers, Nnamani and Egbuchilem, both improved on their personal best at the Abuja Meet while Ezekiel broke Henry Amike’s 35-year-old 400m hurdles Nigeria record.
Dare stressed that Ofili was simply unstoppable as she successfully completed a sprint double, running 10.93s in the 100m and 22.04s in the 200m.
He acknowledged Ashe and Akintola, who set new personal best times in the 100m, both running 10.04s while Chukwuma ran a wind-aided 10.88s to place third in the 100m before scorching to a wind-legal 22.33s finish in the half lap.
Dare filled will awe for the athletes underlined that world U20 200m and 400m champions, Udodi Onwuzurike and Imaobong Nse Uko also set a new lifetime best with the former running 20.09s in the half-lap event while the latter raced to a new 51.24s best in the 400m.
He said, “The performances by our athletes show the depth of talents we have in Nigeria. I am particularly pleased that majority of the athletes left Nigeria between 2020 and 2021 and their incredible rise to world-class standards is a testimony that we have the talents here.”
The Minister, impressed with the performances of the athletes when he graced the AFN All-Comers event in Abuja, marvelled at the improvements recorded by the athletes especially the younger ones.
Dare continued: “I was at the AFN All-Comers in Abuja on Thursday and Friday and witnessed how our athletes, especially the junior ones have been improving, setting new lifetime bests.
“Johnson Nnamani is only 19 and was at the World U20 Championship last year in Nairobi, Kenya. He ran a new personal best of 46.23s in Abuja. I was told he ran 46.9 seconds last year and first improved to ran 46.66s in Lagos last month.
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“This is a massive leap in performance, the kind our athletes are also displaying in the USA,” he added.
Dare is particularly pleased with Ezekiel who ran 48.42s to break the 48.50s Henry Amike ran in Rome in 1987 to set a new Nigeria record.
“I have been following the performances of our athletes, especially the junior ones that achieved unprecedented feats at the Nairobi World U20 Championship last year and saw how Ezekiel improved from a 51 seconds runner to a sub 49 seconds athlete. Now, he has broken a 35-year-old national record,” said Dare who recalls some of the athletes were in the Sports Ministry’s adopt an athlete programme.
“This shows with the right investment, we can achieve so much. We all saw how Enoch Adegoke and Grace Nwokocha defied the odds to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics as home-based athletes.”
However, the Minister is convinced investments on our home-based stars will always produce results and congratulates the Athletics Federation of Nigeria for providing competition for the athletes.