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Oyedeji explains how Olympians can help revolutionise Nigerian sports

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Olumide Oyedeji. PHOTO: BWB

The quest for a new lease of life for the country’s sports has been boosted by Nigeria Olympians Association (NOA), a group comprising the nation’s Olympians, past and present, who met for three days during the week in Abuja to look for ways of contributing their quota to the search for change.

Worried by the dwindling fortunes of the country’s sports, the group of champions held its annual general meeting on Wednesday, where they mapped out ways to help bring Nigeria out of sports wilderness.

Speaking with The Guardian after the meeting, NOA President, Olumide Oyedeji, who is the immediate past captain of the national men’s basketball team, D’Tigers, explained, “The Olympians general assembly aims to rebrand the association and create more awareness about the brand. It is very important that we come together. This is the first time we are coming together in years and it means a lot to Nigerian sports.

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“We are very important stakeholders in Nigerian sports and we want to make it better, rebrand and help it to grow. We are looking at getting more of the youths involved in the sector and what we should do to take the country back to the top among the comity of sporting nations.”

Although Oyedeji acknowledged that the group has no political power to decree change in Nigerian sports, but stated that the NOA can help change things in various ways.

“We want to contribute our experience garnered over the years to the fight to reposition Nigerian sports. We are from different sectors of the economy and household names, who wield some influence in the society.

“More importantly, we have been there and seen how things are done in other societies to grow sports and that is what we are bringing to the table. We want to use the power we have, which is our voices and if we succeed in getting the powers that be listen to us, we will help to change the narrative.”

Oyedeji also explained that yesterday’s awards ceremony was aimed at celebrating Nigerian heroes and current stars, saying they want to send a strong signal to current Olympians that their labour for Nigeria would not be in vain.

He added: “At the AGM, we talked about getting more involved in Nigeria’s sports development, supporting our members and getting the sector to move in the right direction.

“We also dwelt on how to get involved in decision making in Nigerian sports because that will help us bring our experience to the service of the country.”

“The Sports Minister and other top decision makers in the country’s sports will be at our awards ceremony, where we will also examine the problems of Nigerian sports and the way forward.”

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