As the National Sports Federations elections draw near, some athletics coaches have cautioned against the emergence of leaders who would not care about coaches and local athletes’ development.
The coaches told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Lagos that the non-development of coaches and local athletes had largely been responsible for the country’s poor showings in international meets.
The coaches said that the immediate past administration in Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), failed to develop coaches and home-based athletes which took a toll on the development of the sport.
Uruemu Adu, the Head Coach of Lagos-based Esteem Athletics Club, said it was time for leaders who would be accountable and responsible to Nigerians were voted into office.
“Coaches and athletes are tired of leaders who ruled for eight years without anything to show for it; the AFN even lost the sponsorship of Exxon Mobil due to the greed of some people.
“Nothing was done to encourage the home-grown athletes and their coaches; instead the administrators bring non-Nigerians to compete for Nigeria, accusing the out gone administration of having been autocratic and vindictive.
“We do not even want an autocratic leader in the board of AFN; it is high time Nigerian athletes elected someone that is responsible and accountable to them.
“The electors, mainly the states chairmen of associations should ensure they voted for the president that is agreeable to them to cater for athletes and coaches’ welfare.
“We need fresh ideas to lift athletics from the doldrums,’’ he said.
Adu said that the AFN needed a leader with goodwill and had lots of ideas to develop the sport.
“We do not need a rich president that wants to spend his or her money but someone with goodwill and respect in the corporate world and lots of ideas to move us up.
“We are also saying no to `political robbers’ who are already spending money to buy votes.
“They are the ones that killed the athletes union in 2003 and are now seeking relevance,’’ he said.
Olalekan Soetan, a vertical jumps coach and athletics statistician, said the incoming board needed to focus on the revival of the local league where athletes gained more than they normally get attending international championships.
He said the youths and junior athletes were given good attention with the consistency of Dr D.K Olukoya Athletics Championships but that bad administration led to their poor exposure internationally.
“The youth were given good attention with the consistent organisation of Dr Olukoya Athletics Championships for youth and junior athletes.
“But bad administrative decisions led to the poor exposure of these youngsters this year.
“Parents are most likely to stop most of the best young athletes from focusing on their careers as athletes if proper developmental schemes are not put in place soon.
“Athletics will continue to have poor results with the bad sports administrative structure on ground.
“We can only hope and pray that the right people get to take charge of the affairs at the board of directors of AFN,’’ he said.
Another coach who pleaded anonymity said he was tired of the autocratic leadership style of the immediate past board of AFN, adding that he hoped for a visionary, democratic and knowledgeable management board in AFN. (NAN)