By Onukogu Kanayochuqu Jubal
The director of the International Tennis Academy (ITA) and organiser of the NCC Tennis League,Godwin Kienka, has insisted that, though the nation’s sport sector is finding its feet and gaining ground, her sport administrators need to search inwards and get rid of the roadblocks their greed and inactivity pose to the sector.
Kienka,who was speaking to the media in Abuja recently, used the festering situation in the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) as an analogy. he concurred that sport was going well, but those tussling for relevance are on the verge of bringing the nation’s image to disrepute,in spite of her feat at the 2017 FIBA tourneys for men and women on the continent.
“Look at the performance of the D’Tigers and D’Tigresses. While the women won, the men, all playing for the first time, nearly won it,but for the vociferous home support their North African foes enjoyed in the final.
“The point is that they have qualified for the FIBA World Championship.
“Now,look at the bickering and all the in-fighting that had to go on for the team to even get to the tourney.
“None of those who claim to care for the sport is really doing so;they are more concerned with ‘me,me,me’.
“The athletes who are supposed to be dedicated to their country are now torn between warring factions who want to use them as fodder.See the self-inflicted issues there?
“If we have fair-minded,youth-first, sport-conscious and knowledgeable administrators, the sport federations would be properly run and Nigeria will become a true sport giant in the world…if we get rid of the self-created administrative issues,” he said.
Kienka advised stakeholders in the sport to follow track records,in the bid to get the right people to run the sport federations.
“Before you vote in someone as a sport federation president, you need to ask what he has done for that sport in his locale and in his state.
“This track record, coupled with an understanding of how grooming talents in the sport works and how to make it marketable are the things which should qualify one to become a sport federation president and not spreading money to delegates.”
Kienka,a former tennis player and reporter, who attributed his continued stay in the game as an administrator to his passion, assured that the reforms which were proposed recently would begin to manifest within the next two cycles of the sport federation elections.
“Once the government pitches in with great policies and the private sector takes control, sport in Nigeria will hit the ground running,” he assured.
As for tennis, Kienka assured that Nigeria would soon produce a grand slam winner if the development drive occasioned by the NCC Tennis League is maintained.
“Britain,in spite of her development in the game, had to wait for 70 years for Andy Murray to come lift that country’s first grand slam.
“In our case, we cannot afford to slack off.We have to be resilient and keep developing players and projecting them to the world, get the right sponsors, set up the right infrastructure. Soon, these great actions will produce results. We are taking satisfaction from the great developments we see,but how far they go is another thing we need to work on.It is a continuous thing;good work never stops,” concluded Kienka.