U.S.-based Victor Okorie dangles overseas scholarship on Nigerian athletes
• South East Sports Foundation sponsors coaches to NIS
United States-based Nigerian former athlete, Victor Okorie, who was one of the most gifted hurdlers to rise from the school sports system, has come to the aid of some track and field stars by offering them an overseas scholarship.
Through his pet project, the South East Sports Foundation, Okorie, who won a silver medal for Team Nigeria at COJA 2003 All Africa Games in Abuja, is also bankrolling the training of some Nigerian coaches at the National Institute For Sports (NIS) in Lagos.
A board member of the South East Sports Foundation, former 400m star, John Chidiebere Kpechi, told The Guardian yesterday that the aim is to rescue the athletics career of many Nigerians who fell off the line due to hardship.
“The Foundation has observed that so many Nigerian athletes can no longer cope with the present situation, and have decided to go for menial jobs. For instance, a sprinter, Olisakwe Chukwudi from Anambra State, out of frustration, decided to quit sports to pick up a carwash job in Enugu. This, he did, to put food on his table and also further his education. Our Foundation located him, and took him back to track and field, placed him on a monthly allowances. He represented Nigeria in 2015 alongside Divine Oduduru and won medals for the country. He has a Personal Best of 10.41 in 100m and 21.03 in 200m.
“Another athlete, Jude Nnajiofor from Anambra State, is also on the verge of leaving athletics due to hardship. We were able to secure his school at Nsukka, bought him training canvass, and also paid his JAMB fees to enable him to proceed with his studies. Ezeakor Chidera, a sprinter from Enugu State won the state’s sports festival trial with 10.28 seconds. He is also facing some difficulties, but we have kitted him and placed him on a monthly allowance. Two promising athletes from Ebonyi State are also receiving the same monthly allowances,” he stated.
According to Kpechi, the Foundation set various targets before picking the athletes for the scholarship programs in the United States.
“In the 100m men, we picked athletes who are running 10.03seconds or 10.04 seconds. For the female, the target was 11.08 seconds and downwards. Men’s 400m, the target was 47.00 seconds downwards, while the female must run 54 seconds. In the throws, the men must throw 67 meters in javelin.
“The Foundation is also taking care of some physically challenged athletes because our chairman, Victor Okorie, says that disabled athletes in Southeast should be taken off the streets. The Foundation’s aim is to integrate athletes in volleyball, handball, wrestling, and other sports on the same level with their foreign-based counterparts. We will send them outside the country for quality competitions.
“One of the coaches, who is doing his Advanced Diploma Course at the NIS is Ephraim Ochomma from Enugu. We also picked one coach each from Ebonyi and Imo states. Soon, the Foundation will spread the goodies to the South-South, South West, and to the northern region,” Kpechi stated.
Other ex-athletes on the board of South East Sports Foundation are Gloria Alozie, Uche Eziokwu, Ibufro West, Juliana Ekemezie Nwankwor, and Chilaka Lucky.
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