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Yusuf Alli… A ‘smooth operator’ comes to Edo sports commission

By Gowon Akpodonor
19 March 2022   |   1:54 am
For about a decade, Yusuf Alli was the ‘commander-in-chief’ in African athletics, particularly in the long jump event, setting records as if there were no tomorrow.

For about a decade, Yusuf Alli was the ‘commander-in-chief’ in African athletics, particularly in the long jump event, setting records as if there were no tomorrow.

Apart from being a three-time Olympian, Alli is best remembered for his gold medal at Auckland ‘90 Commonwealth Games.

Till date, his Personal Best of 8.27 metres, which he set in 1989 during the African Athletics Championships in Lagos, still stands as Nigerian record. He also holds school records for the long jump – both indoor and outdoor (set in 1984 and 1983) respectively for the University of Missouri in the United States.

Alli was African captain, longest Nigeria captain, Technical Director of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN), and Manager, COJA Committee for the 8th All African Games held in Abuja in 2003.

Now, Chairman, Edo State Sports Commission, Yusuf Alli says his mission is to make Edo sports as a destination point in Africa and the World.

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Alli said: “Sports in Edo state is facing a massive positive turnaround by the government in terms of the provision of world class facilities, which aims to not only increase the interest of the state citizens in sports, but also to encourage private sector participation.

“It is also the wish of the government to see that Edo state becomes a major sports destination for Nigeria and the world while also working to turn sports into a viable business venture the way it is in the developed world. This perfectly mirrors my vision for sports in Edo states and having a government that shares this visions, makes it’s realisation not too difficult,” he stated.

Governor Godwin Obaseki inaugurated the Yusuf Alli-led Edo Sports Commission board last week as part of his desires to make the sector a financially viable for the youths.

Alli stated that from the results of the last National Sports Festival, which was hosted by Edo state, he is confident of achieving a good result within a short period of time.

“We can see that sports, particularly athletics in Edo state hasn’t done too badly across all events, and it is against this backdrop that the strengths and weakness of the Edo state athletics team has been comprehensively analysed to identify solid ways of improving on all fronts and not just hand picking and attempting to concentrate efforts on a particular segment.

He continued: “I plan on leaving a legacy in which sports becomes a financially viable sector of the economy for youths of the state through identifying, grooming and making our youth talents into world beaters and forces to reckon with on the global sporting stage.”

Since the return to democracy in 1999, Edo and Delta (formally Bendel State), have maintained their positions as the gateway to Nigerian sports.

On same occasions, athletes, coaches and administrators from the two states have clashed at competition venues in their bid to outdo one another.

But Yusuf Alli says his administration would do everything possible to maintain a cordial relationship on and off competition venues.

“Healthy rivalry has been a mantra I have always preached and practiced even from my days as an active athlete, into when I took part in coaching athletes. One of my core beliefs is that no matter how much we compete against each other in the field of play, personal relationships should never be sacrificed. Friends will always be friends regardless of which side of the divide we find ourselves on the field of play, and that is why I am confident that while we maintain a stiff rivalry amongst ourselves as regarding sports, that will in no way affect our friendship, which has been built over the years.

“The team selected by His Excellency shows that he places a premium on merit above other consideration, and on behalf of our team I am assuring the good people of Edo State that we will surpass their expectation and that of the Governor.”

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