Sports Ministry, AFN, on last-minute rescue to provide kits for Team Nigeria in Birmingham

by Oviri Kelvin, Sports Ministry, Abuja

The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) are in a last-minute attempt to save the country from an international embarrassment at the 2022 Commonwealth Games for failing to provide kits for Team Nigeria.

In an emerging report from Birmingham, the handlers of the Nigerian contingents in Birmingham contacted MG Sportswear firm, a British sportswear manufacturer to produce kits for the national team.

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A concerned citizen lamented that the handlers of Team Nigeria had ample  time to provide the needed kits before the commencement of the 2022 Commonwealth Games but chose unjustifiably to wait till the last hour to dent the international image of the country in athletics.

Gino Ruffinato, manager of MG Sportswear, said the handlers of Team Nigeria contacted the company on Tuesday to quickly produce 200 pieces of sports kits ‘including running vests and shorts, staff tracksuits and even 400 Nigerian badges’.

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The manager divulged that when he got the demand, he was startled at first and doubted its authenticity until multiple emails confirmed it was real. He noted that this instigated the launch of a full-scale action with its fourteen staff to meet the Friday deadline.

“As it progressed I started getting emails with orders on, so at that point, I thought, hang on, I think this is serious,” Ruffinato told BBC.

“When they hit us with the deadline saying it needs to be there for Friday and today was Tuesday… there’s all the fabric, the print, the designs to get out in two days. It was a bit hair-raising,” the MG manager added.

Furthermore, he admitted that the job is arduous but the staff have braced up to accept the challenge.

Elatedly, Ruffinato, whose company got the first job to produce sports kits for a national team, stressed that he would pay rapt attention to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham to watch Team Nigeria wear the MG Sportswear brand.

“I still pinch myself. I’ll be looking on the telly and seeing the MG Sportswear brand for a national team,” he added.

Recall that a similar incident almost happened in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics when the handlers of Team Nigeria and two sportswear makers disagreed.

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