Obisanya blames government’s bias for poor state of Nigerian sports
Former National Table Tennis Coach, Babatunde Obisanya, has described as unfortunate the absence of Nigeria’s women’s team at the ongoing International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) African Senior Championships holding in Agadir, Morocco.
The absence of the nation’s female team has been attributed to the Ministry of Sports’ refusal to fund the team. This development has taken the shine off the championship, which serves as 2017 and 2018 World Championships’ qualifier.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Obisanya put the blame on the doorstep of the government, saying football has always been given undue advantage over other sports to the detriment of sports development in the country.
“What the government is doing to other sports when compared to the special interest given to football is unfortunate. The blame for our female team’s inability to travel to Morocco for this championship is solely the government’s because it does not pay attention to other multi-medal winning sports.
“There is no reason why government should not send at least five male and five female players to Morocco. But if it were football, you can be rest assured that everything will be put in place to ensure that the team travelled there. The thing is that other sports have been left to fend for themselves. Government is not just looking at other sports except football,” he said.
The former star of the Okoya-Thomas Table Tennis Championship said things would remain this way was because none of the federations was ready to confront the minister head-on for a way out.
“Everybody runs away from table tennis because there is no big money attached to it, unlike football where the largess in it can be shared. But when the glory comes, you see them identifying themselves with it. Currently, one or two people are running the game of table tennis, financing it with their money.
“I feel like crying each time I see the way other sports are being treated against an overwhelming support for football. By the time Segun Toriola retires, it will remain Aruna Quadri. And like they say, a tree does not make a forest because before we realize it, we may see table tennis going into extinction. All we need now is a sports minister, not minister of football, as we have witnessed in the last three or four years now,” he stated.