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Obisanya wants sports ministry to prioritise adopt-an-athlete initiative

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Former National Table Tennis Coach, Babatunde Obisanya, has urged the Ministry of Sports to include the adopt-an-athlete initiative as part of the national sports policy, saying it is the easiest way of ensuring budding talents develop to their full potential.

The former table tennis coach said the initiative, which makes it possible for athletes to get the funds for their training in and out of competition, will help the stars to work at their own pace.

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“For us to really make an impact at the Olympics, we should be ready to make sacrifices. Individual athletes, corporate bodies and the government should be dedicated to getting the best for the country. To me, I will say we have not done much as a nation to get prepared for the Olympics at any point in time compared to what other nations are doing,” he told The Guardian on Tuesday.

Obisanya also hailed Funke Oshonaike’s record-setting appearance at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which began on Friday in Japan, adding that joining the “seven clubs” class, which also has his compatriot, Segun Toriola, Belgium’s Jean-Michel Saive, Croatia’s Zoran Primorac, and Sweden’s Jörgen Persson, is an achievement worthy of commendation.

He added, “We are fond of always paying lip service to preparations for the Olympics when in fact we do not really invest in these athletes to make the podium at the Games. Each time we see athletes of other countries winning laurels, we pretend as if we don’t really know how much has gone into preparing them.

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“We always want things to happen by accident when we have not done enough to make us have a meaningful impact at the Olympics; even in all spheres of life in this country.

“We should be going to the grassroots to identify talents and give them adequate exposure.

“The adopt-an-athlete idea by the sports ministry should not be a one-off thing. It should be taken as a policy by the government so all sports federations can adopt it. For now, the current adopt-an-athlete initiative has not been sanctioned as a policy…. another minister may come and bring a whole new idea. We need the policy for meaningful growth of our sports.”

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