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Nigeria: How Feminine Athletes Are Driving Nigeria to World Successes

Thousands and thousands of Nigerian sports activities fans are presently in a joyous temper following the historic outing of Workforce Nigeria on the simply concluded 2022 Commonwealth Video games in Birmingham, England.

Represented by 94 athletes in seven occasions, specifically weightlifting, power-lifting, boxing, para-table tennis, athletics, boxing and desk tennis, Workforce Nigeria produced their greatest ever efficiency within the video games as they scooped an unprecedented 12 gold, 9 silver and 14 bronze for a complete of 35 medals, ending seventh out of 42 nations that participated within the video games.

Aside from the truth that Nigeria emerged the perfect African nation on the multi-sports occasions wherein she made her debut in 1950 in Auckland with a bronze medal, Workforce Nigeria broke and set 4 Commonwealth Video games information and one world document in Birmingham.

Probably the most intriguing and interesting factor about Workforce Nigeria’s success story in England is that each one the 12 gold medals that earned the nation her enviable score have been gained by feminine athletes in wrestling, weightlifting and athletic occasions.

Workforce Nigeria’s greatest efficiency in Commonwealth Video games was in 2014 in Glasgow Scotland, the place the nation amassed a complete of 11gold, 8 silver and 14 gold medals with the feminine athletes led by Blessing Okagbare contributing 9 gold medals.

It’s, subsequently, straightforward to grasp why Nigerian sports activities followers are so ecstatic concerning the efficiency of the contingent to the 2022 Commonwealth Video games, particularly the excellent performances of their feminine athletes.

The heroic deeds of the feminine athletes could come as a shock to some Nigerians, however a former director-general of the defunct Nationwide Sports activities Fee (NSC), Alhassan Yakmut, stated he was not shocked by the feats achieved by the younger girls.

In an unique interview with Day by day Belief Saturday, the previous Nigerian worldwide volleyball participant stated, “Personally, the superlative performances of Workforce Nigeria’s girls did not come to me as a shock. It has been the pattern previously 25 years. Our greatest performances in worldwide competitions have been restricted to the ladies.

“I, subsequently, agree with the Minister of Girls Affairs, Pauline Tallen, who stated the efficiency of Nigerian girls in Birmingham was a proof of how a lot girls may contribute to the picture and growth of the nation

“Now, the occasions are 50-50 for female and male athletes. Due to this fact, it’s the male gender that we should revive for podium performances,” Yakmut stated.

Nonetheless, as Nigerians proceed to feast on the heart-warming performances of Workforce Nigeria in Birmingham, there are divergent opinions, with some attributing the success to particular person brilliance of the athletes, who defied all the percentages in opposition to them to win the laurels.

Contemplating the truth that Nigerian athletes are oftentimes starved of the mandatory motivation earlier than and through worldwide competitions, such views cannot be stated to be unfounded.

Due to this fact, the talk as as to if or not the Federal Ministry of Sports activities ought to take credit score for the nice outing of Workforce Nigeria in Birmingham has continued unabated.

However the ministry below Sunday Dare can be satisfied that it was instrumental to the 35 podium appearances of Workforce Nigeria in England. In fact, there are sufficient evidences to collaborate the claims by the ministry.

Ministry’s function within the success story

Workforce Nigeria’s efficiency in Birmingham cannot be separated from the Undertake-An-Athlete initiative launched by the sports activities minister on December 2019 on the Lagos Civic Centre. This step was taken by the minister after discoveries have been made that the basis reason behind the challenges athletes confronted, which had impeded their performances at continental and world competitions, was lack of funding and scholarships.

Curiously, substantial options to the above talked about issues hitherto confronted by athletes have been discovered as quickly because the initiative began in earnest.

In the meanwhile, some home-based athletes obtain as a lot as $10,000, paid straight into their accounts and managed solely by them. This takes care of their coaches, kits, vitamin and medical insurance. And primarily based on greater overhead, foreign-based athletes earn as a lot as $20,000.

To maintain this initiative, some states like Delta, Edo, Ogun, Lagos and Bayelsa, in addition to company organisations like Constancy Financial institution, Zenith Financial institution, UBA, Entry Financial institution, adopted many of the athletes.

Curiously, many of the athletes who gained medals in Birmingham are among the many 38 beneficiaries of the Undertake-An-Athlete initiative of the sports activities minister.

As well as, the ministry ensured that Workforce Nigeria did not go to England for jamboree because it was the apply previously. Thus, Nigeria went to Birmingham with solely 94 athletes, who featured in solely 9 sports activities the place the nation is ranked amongst the highest 50 on the planet. It was a deliberate choice to characteristic athletes in occasions the place Nigeria additionally has comparative benefit.

Not like earlier than, reward for victorious athletes was instantaneous, as it’s stated that even earlier than most of them competed of their video games, they’d their allowances out there.

Whereas gold medalists acquired as a lot as $5,000, silver medalists obtained $3,000. Bronze medalists obtain $2,000. Money rewards have been additionally given to the coaches. These and different out there incentives, little question, motivated the athletes to place of their greatest.

Way forward for sports activities in Nigeria is with girls – Ibrahim Galadima

Overwhelmed by the excellent performances of Workforce Nigeria’s feminine athletes in Birmingham, certainly one of Nigeria’s most revered sports activities directors and patron of the Nigeria Olympics Committee (NOC), Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima, has concluded that the way forward for sports activities in Africa’s most populous nation lies with girls.

Talking completely to Day by day Belief Saturday, the chairman of the Kano State Sports activities Fee stated, “Each Nigerian is elated at what occurred in Birmingham. It’s lengthy we had such an excellent efficiency. The efficiency of the younger girls is a sign that the way forward for Nigerian sports activities is with girls.

“I hope and pray that we maintain the tempo. Managing success has been certainly one of our main issues in sports activities. We now have to maintain a detailed watch on the victorious athletes as we put together for the 2024 Olympic Video games in France. We now have to take care of the usual we’ve set.

He, nonetheless, expressed dissatisfaction with Workforce Nigeria’s preparations earlier than the video games as he additionally attributed a lot of the success story to particular person efforts of the athletes.

“We did not put together adequately as a result of even when it was near the video games, many of the athletes weren’t in closed camp. This has at all times been our downside. So most of what we have been in a position to do present that there was particular person brilliance and resilience on the a part of the athletes.

Galadima, nonetheless, gave the Sports activities Ministry a pat on the again for paying extra consideration to athletes’ motivation by immediately rewarding winners with money prizes.

“I’m additionally impressed with the response from the ministry by way of giving them profitable bonuses nearly instantly. I feel that additionally spurred the athletes to do higher.

“It reveals that the ministry is turning into conscious that motivation is essential to success,” the previous president of the then Nigeria Soccer Affiliation stated.

How Birmingham success will be sustained – Tijani Yusuf, Alhassan Yakmut

In the meantime, two foremost Nigerian sports activities directors, Dr Tijani Yusuf and a former director-general of the Nationwide Sports activities Fee (NSC), Alhassan Yakmut, in unique interviews with Day by day Belief Saturday, referred to as on the Ministry of Sports activities to maintain the momentum by taking sports activities growth to the grassroots, the place they consider extra Tobi Amusans and Ese Brumes are ready to be unearthed.

Dr Yusuf, who’s a senior lecturer within the Division of Bodily and Well being Training, Bayero College, Kano, stated the success of Workforce Nigeria in Birmingham was not an unintentional.

He reiterated that the achievement in Birmingham was a results of laborious work, scientific planning and developmental programmes that put the athletes in prime form for podium finishes.

Yusuf additionally recommended the victorious feminine athletes for upstaging American and Jamaican rivals, even in occasions they (People) had dominated for many years.

The previous secretary-general of the then Nigeria Soccer Affiliation stated, “If you happen to have a look at issues holistically, the ladies who made Nigeria proud did so in these areas that have been dominated by Jamaicans and People.

“As an example, the 4x100m girls’s relay staff has damaged the African document and set a brand new one so others should do extra to be able to both equal or surpass their document in Birmingham.”

The college don additionally stated that to keep away from what had grow to be the bane of the feminine senior nationwide staff, the Tremendous Falcons, there must be plans for the long run, even because the nation continues to be celebrating.

“We now have to start to arrange for the long run. Abilities abound in Nigeria. They’re solely ready to be found. I need to respect the minister for a few of his improvements in sports activities. He has finished what Napoleon could not do. I congratulate him and those that made the success attainable,” Yusuf stated.

Yakmut additionally lauded Workforce Nigeria, saying hope has been significantly rekindled by their superlative performances, particularly the feminine athletes in Birmingham.

Moreover, he painted a vivid future for Nigeria in sports activities as he expressed happiness and satisfaction with the typical age of the athletes.

“I feel that within the historical past of this nation, there isn’t any higher time that sports activities have healed it of so many issues than now. There’s the issue of disunity, insecurity, poverty, inflation and so forth. These are world challenges, anyway.

“The performances on the Commonwealth Video games have rekindled the hope of Nigerians of their nation and the youthful technology.

“We also needs to plan to maintain the success. With the colourful and gifted youths we’ve, it should not take us years to realize this efficiency. We’d like good directors, good funding, upgrading of sporting amenities, common worldwide publicity for the athletes and strict adherence to anti-doping laws to thrive.

“And in the event you have a look at the typical age of those that competed, it’s the youngest we’ve ever offered. That is one space most individuals have not checked out. The age bracket of our athletes is promising,” he famous.

Like Yusuf, the previous NSC director-general additionally made a passionate attraction for grassroots sports activities growth if the success story in Birmingham is to be sustained.

“Ese Brume was found at a grassroots competitors in Lagos once I was the Director of Grassroots Sports activities Growth within the Federal Ministry of Sports activities.

“So, we’ve to return to the grassroots the place these skills abound. If we’ve sustainable programmes as a few of us have at all times proposed, our athletes will proceed to make podium appearances,” he suggested.