……says better preparations could have yielded more medals
By Albert Akota
The Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) yesterday in Abuja said Nigeria’s performance at the XXI Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast could have yielded better results if the right things had been done.
The association, following a review of Team Nigeria’s performance in Gold Coast and in comparison with earlier appearances, faulted the position of the Minister of Youths and Sports that the Gold Coast appearance was the best in history.
“It is unbelievable that the Minister of Youths and Sports, Solomon Dalung, could contend that our performance in Gold Coast which brought a total of 24 medals from 10 sports was better than that of Glasgow in 2014 where the country recorded 36 medals, comprising 11 gold, 11 silver and 14 bronze medals from seven sports.
“Also, given the resources that were put into our participation at the Gold Coast Games, as well as the benefit of learning from the mistakes of the past, we should have done better than ever,’’ SWAN said in a statement signed by its Secretary-General, Olawale Alabi.
The association said it was its belief that the minister must have acted from an “ill-informed position’’.
SWAN, going further, said Dalung by now should have been aware of the fact that sports in view of its sensitive nature to Nigerians and the role it plays in uniting the country does not deserve utterances and conduct which sway towards politicising the sector.
The body expressed wonder at the fact that Dalung was expecting success from a situation where the athletes were not well-prepared, advising that adequate preparations should always be the focus before subsequent international competitions.
“If not for the intervention of Nigeria’s foreign-based athletes who had better training opportunities and facilities, we might not have won any medal,’’ he said.
SWAN then urged the Federal Government to stop paying lip-service to sports development, in view of the fact that it is a huge industry that has the capacity to engage the country’s youths and create wealth.
The association also urged the National Assembly to step up its oversight function in the sector, while cautioning administrators against actions that could further worsen the already-battered sports sector.
“As watchdogs of the sector and critical stakeholders in sports development, we will continue to discharge our duties of drawing attention to failures and successes, as well as proffering solutions when necessary.
“While commending the efforts of the athletes, as well as their commitment and determination, we advise that concerted efforts should be made towards strengthening grassroots sports development,’’ SWAN said.