Igali calls for continual funding in wrestling to upgrade feat achieved at Tokyo 2020
The Chairman, Caretaker Committee of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation (NWF) Daniel Igali, is appealing to private and corporate entities for a continuing funding of the sport to sustain the historic feat accomplished at just-concluded Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.
Ten-time African champion, Blessing Oborududu, won the country’s first-ever medal at the Olympics in the wrestling event, when she settled for a silver medal after losing to United State’s Tamyra Mensah-Stock in the final of the 68kg women freestyle wrestling.
However, other four wrestlers that include three-time world championship medallist, Odunayo Adekuoroye, Commonwealth champion, Aminat Adeniyi, upcoming Adijat Idris and Ekerekeme Agiomor were unsuccessful in their attempts to win medals in Tokyo.
According to Igali, I have a long-term ‘succession plan’ for the top athletes without which the hope of the country achieving more in the sports will not materialise without the support and sponsorship from the private and corporate sectors.
“My goal is to ensure that I have a sustained succession plan for most of these athletes. This means, in terms of funding too, we need to have better communication even with the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports.
“Of course you know sports like basketball have funding directly from the Federal House of Representatives – from the budget. And I think wrestling deserves that status as well.
“So, we need to do a bit more in terms of sustained funding, not only from the Federal Government, but we need to look at, especially with the small or little success we had at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for us to have private individuals and/or corporations that will give us that assurance of sponsorship for the next three to eight years,” he said.
The Bayelsa State Commissioner for Youth and Sports then added, “So, I think those are the foundations I want to lay. And once you’ve done that, you are rest assured that anyone coming after you will be starting on a pretty level-playing field. They wouldn’t have to be climbing a very high mountain to maintain the success we’ve had.”
“Well, I want to assure everyone, either individual or corporation that is prepared to support the NWF that they have very trustworthy leadership; leadership that is very responsive and that has over time, judiciously used funds that had been appropriated for any purpose.
“We feel that to keep up even at the Commonwealth level, we need funding from private investors. Look at India for instance now; we were almost at par just four to five years ago.”
In fact, at the Commonwealth Games, our female team beat both Canada and India. But as we’re talking now, India is almost edging Nigeria because they have funding from Tata Motors to the tune of $3m (over N1.2b) a year.
“They just went to the cadet world championships and became overall team champions. That tells you that in another four to five years, the 17-year-old kids will be 20, 21, and they will be world-beaters.
“What the Nigeria Wrestling Federation doesn’t have now is to be able to even expose our young talents to international competitions because we don’t have the funds. And we can only do that when we have private investors partner with us on a long-term basis.”