By Amaechi Agbo
The immediate past minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung has disclosed that he left many legacies he would loved to be remembered for during his time as the minister overseeing the ministry of youth and sports development.
According to Dalung who vacated the no one seat in sports last month, he mention the democratisation of the various federations in the country in which present occupies of the positions are democratically elected, revival of the Olympic Swimming Pool in Lagos, Resuscitation of the National Youth Games, NYG and the National Sports Festivals, NSF.
The former lecturer further mentioned the national basketball female team, the D’ Tigress, the national female football team, the Super Falcons, Nigeria’s table tennis icon, Aruna Qadri, the Para Powerlifters, among the legacies he would not forget in a hurry due to their resilience and successes they recorded during his time in office.
Barr. Dalung who spoke in an interview recently recounted his experience in reviving the NSF last year adding that the major challenge facing sports in the country is not just lack of funds but late release of funds for sports events whether national, continental or global
He noted that funds for sporting competitions, despite requests being made years ahead for timely release of funds, are always released late which hampers effective preparations. He mentioned the NSF in Abuja last year and the Rio Olympics in 2016 which he said that funds were released 9 and few days to the commencement of the competitions respectively.
“The high point of my stewardship will be majorly the revival of some of the sporting competitions that were abandoned for a very long time and even some of the infrastructure. The Olympic Swimming Pool in Lagos is very dear to me because when I assumed office, it has been abandoned for over 20 years. Today it has been put to use.
“The National Youth Games, when I came on board, has been abandoned for about three years. The NYG was a huge phenomenon and has contributed immensely to the building of talents and redefining our image.
“Don’t forget the National Sports Festival, NSF which at a point in time, it appeared we will not be able to realise our ambition of hosting it but by sheer determination and conviction, we should continued to push on. To those who worked closely with me then on the revival and expressed doubt over the possibility of hosting the festivals again, I told that that I would want posterity to remember me that this is where I died fighting than for it to be recorded that this is where I abandoned the struggle.
“In fact, we got the funding 9 days to the opening ceremony and the wisdom behind our success was that I identified critical funding and sourced for alternative funding including borrowing because I knew we will end up with last minute funding. For all the three years I have been in office, there has been no time where funding had come timely.
“In fact, for the Olympics, funds came when I had left for Rio and I think it is good to mention this. I will not forget the basketball team – De Tigress, our women football team, the Super falcons who have won the continental football trophy for 9 times. I will not forget Aruna Qadri easily; I will not forget the Para Powerlifters who today are world record holders. Wrestling will remain so dear to me in my mind. I can go on and on. But mine is about somebody who had an opportunity to serve. I have done my best and if my best is not good enough for you, that same best that is not good enough has changed the course of history in Nigeria sports,” he said.