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Golf, not athletics, key to Nigeria’s Olympics dream, says Bindawa

By Christian Okpara
01 October 2021   |   3:06 am
His views are a bit contrary to popular assumptions, but Gen. J. S. Bindawa, is one sports enthusiast that should be taken seriously when he talks sports.

His views are a bit contrary to popular assumptions, but Gen. J. S. Bindawa, is one sports enthusiast that should be taken seriously when he talks sports.

Examining Nigeria’s recurring poor outings at major international competitions, including the Olympic Games, where the country has failed to rise up to the hype about its abundant human resources, Bindawa believes the time has come for the nation to look for answers elsewhere.

After Team Nigeria’s poor outing at the just concluded Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Bindawa, along with some of the country’s golf icons, believes the time has come for the country to rethink its priorities.

Bindawa, a former member of the Nigeria Golf Federation (NGF), said the country would continue to flounder if it continued to devote most of its resources to football and athletics while ignoring golf, a sport that “can fetch the country over 10 gold medals in Olympics.”

Bindawa, a former defence attaché to the Nigerian Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan said: “They say golf has its own federation but I can’t see it. I say this because the government never allocates any funds to that body.

“As at the last time I had a look at that body called Nigeria Golf Federation, I noticed clearly that it was the federation’s former president and currently Caretaker Committee Chairman, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, that has been spending his personal money to keep the federation’s secretariat running.

“And we are now talking about golf that has an overflow of talented youths in every corridor of the nation. You will not even believe it that the government is not doing anything to harness the talents of these youths. This is grossly unfair.

“I can recall how I put the lots of the youths on my hands alone for years. I selected great talents from across all regions of this country and took them to youth tournaments across the world at my own expense. I was doing this with the belief that the federal sports ministry would lend a helping hand at some point. But all this, to no avail.

“I also learnt that on two occasions, the youths were sponsored to international meets so that their talents could be harnessed, it was this same Prince Oyinlola, who paid from his pocket to ensure the nation participated in those meets. Now, tell me, how do you grow the game in this harsh manner?

“What I cannot even understand is that rather than the government giving to golf, which is the next big thing in the world, funds are mostly devoted to football and athletics. And mark you; even football did not make it to the Olympics despite the huge funds spent on it. And if we are thinking Athletics would come to the fore to bring us glory at the Olympics, then we are getting things wrong. Golf is the right path I see at the moment.

“Again, I think we must get our priorities right. Sports like swimming and golf that command a basket of medals at the Olympics should be attended to without any delay. A situation where golf, which is being played by over three million Nigerians, is completely ignored, is unacceptable.”

Also speaking on Nigeria’s attitude to golf, NGF Caretaker Committee Chairman, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, said, although he would not want to be joined in confrontation with anyone, “the total neglect of golf is rather unfortunate.”