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South West Athletics Association set agenda for talent discovery across region

By Alex Monye
23 September 2021   |   3:03 am
Chairmen of Athletics Associations of Southwest states and some of their board members, at the weekend, gathered in Lagos, under the aegis of South West Athletics Association

[FILES] Stadium track; EMORYWHEEL

Chairmen of Athletics Associations of Southwest states and some of their board members, at the weekend, gathered in Lagos, under the aegis of South West Athletics Association of Nigeria, to draw a roadmap and finetune strategies on how to discover more talents from the grassroots in the region.

The members of the association, who expressed delight that they were able to come together, speak in one voice, following the resolution of the Athletics of Nigeria (AFN) crisis, explained that the summit was based on the fact that the region, which produced notable international stars for the country in the past, has failed to live up to its reputation in recent times due to absence of grassroots championships.

Chairman of the South West Athletics Association, who is also the Lagos State Athletics Association chairman, Alao Solomon, said the association’s decision to reignite the region’s athletics body would help it discover and groom talents from different states in the zone.

This, he said, would go a long way to keep Nigeria on the world map in athletics.

“Part of our plans is to revive Schools Athletics programmes and other athletics championships in the region. Lagos State has over the years produced quality athletes that have given Nigeria medals in international meets.

“An athlete doesn’t need to be from Lagos State to be discovered in the state. Any athlete that lives in Lagos or was born here and from any part of the country can be discovered and nurtured in the South West region. ”

“Athletics has given Nigeria medals in the past and it is important grassroots championships are revived to bring back the glory days where South West was the hub of discovering athletes.

“If smaller countries like Jamaica, Bahamas and other countries not as big as Nigeria can produce quality world-class athletes, Nigeria stands a chance of grooming more talents.

“This is why the South-West states are coming out to reposition athletics in the region. AFN President, Tony Okowa, supports our plans,” he said.

Also speaking, secretary-general South West Athletics Association, Isaac Friday Ogada, who is also chairman of Oyo State Athletics Association, said: “Our focus is to catch them young from every strata of the society, which will involve primary, secondary schools and tertiary institutions.

“The association discovered that athletes meets are dead in schools and the grassroots.

“We are on the move to improve it. Before the year runs out, our body will start working by organising a championship.

“The board members of the South West Athletics Association will be meeting from time to time to streamline measures on developing athletics in the South West regions,” he said.

Notable former athletes like Falilat Ogunkoya and Yusuf Ali were among the stakeholders present at the meeting.