The Guardian
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Cash-strapped Team Nigeria writes organisers, may travel today




Nigerian youth athletes got a ray of hope yesterday, following a directive by the Sports Minister, Tammy Danagogo, to the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) to do everything possible to ensure Team Nigeria’s participation in the 2015 African Youth Athletics Championship beginning tomorrow in Mauritius.

Following the development, AFN officials have pleaded with organisers of the championship to give the Nigerian contingent 24 hours grace to enable them make the trip. The body wants the organisers to allow the Nigerian contingent travel later today and arrive the venue tomorrow.

Nigeria is the defending champion of the championship, which would be used to determine qualifiers for various international championships lined up for the year, including the All Africa Games.

The Nigerian team has been hampered by ‘serious’ financial challenge, which the AFN feared would deprive the country the opportunity of defending its title this year.

AFN President, Solomon Ogba told The Guardian in a telephone chat from his base in the United States yesterday that the team would arrive Mauritius tomorrow (Thursday) if the organisers responded favourably to their request.

“I spoke with the Sports Minister a few minutes ago and he said we should do everything possible to ensure the athletes attended the championship. But we have to write the organisers to allow our athletes arrive on Thursday, which is the opening day. I have directed the Technical Director, Navy Commodore Omatseye Nesiama, to do so. We have to cut down the number of athletes to 12 and officials to three,” Ogba said.

The Guardian recalls that Nigerian U-20 athletes experienced the same cash problem during the junior championship a month ago in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where Team Nigeria finished top on the medals table.

“We had to borrow money for the trip to Ethiopia and we are yet to recover the money,” an AFN official said yesterday.

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