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Greedy administrators killing Nigerian sports, says Ebewele

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Olympian, Brown Ebewele, at the weekend in Abuja posited that Nigeria would not make any meaningful progress in the development of its sports if the country continued to use insincere, greedy and manipulative sports administrators, especially at the level of the sports federations.

Ebewele, a highly reputed athletics coach, who rose to become a director and later a commissioner of sports in Edo State, added in a presentation at the Sports Reform Committee’s retreat that “ the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports should raise the level of monitoring and regulation of the sports federations as most of the chairmen have turned them into “personal gardens.”

“Nigeria is the only country in the world that does not use her best in nearly all fields of public endeavor, especially sports. The country will go to the Olympics and come back empty handed and the federations’ presidents will turn around and blackmail and blame the ministry for their failure.

“For instance, the so-called ‘high performance centre’ in Port Harcourt is a fraud and if the ministry does not step in and the athletics body that provided the grant goes to see that contraption, the country may lose further support,” he said.

According to the former decathlete, “Nigeria will not make any significant progress as long as the civil servants drive the sports development process.”

In his presentation, former director, NTA Sports, Akinloye Oyebanji, said the future of Nigeria’s youth should be the main focus of any sports development strategy, adding that the nation should provide the enabling environment for the youth to create wealth with their sports talent.

“There are models and standards all over the world that we can learn from. Early scouting and scientific programming should be key,” Oyebanji, who worked for 30 years, as a sports journalist said.

Recounting a very telling experience that Nigeria did not appear to have learnt from, the former director said, “At the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Nigeria went with a 400-man contingent and got a standing ovation during the march-past because of her flamboyant attire. Surinam went with a five-man contingent and was virtually scoffed at during the match-past.”


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