Solomon Dalung, Minister of Youths and Sports Development, has pledged his ministry’s full support to the Nigeria Hockey Federation in improving the hockey sport in Nigeria and Africa.
Dalung, who was represented by Olusade Adesola, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, however, commended the present board of the federation.
He said: “I must commend the President and the NHF board members because they have been making sacrifices in the area of finances, manpower and the way they run around.
“Their commitment is what has brought success so far.
“We will make effort to support the federation in terms of getting a technical manager and also look into improving the turfs.
“We will do our best to support hockey with all we can and we are pleading with the African Hockey Federation to give us another chance to host a tournament.”
Responding, Simon Nkom, the Acting President of NHF, thanked the ministry for its support towards the success of the hosting of the 2018 edition of the Africa Cup for Club Champions.
Nkom said: “We want to also appreciate the Minister and the ministry for coming in at the nick of time to save us from what would have been absolutely not a good name.
“Without mincing words, the success of this tournament belongs to the ministry and we want to say ‘a very big thank you’ for coming in at the nick of time.”
He urged the ministry to help the federation get new turfs to resurface the Abuja National Stadium astro-turf pitch, as well as equipment to help develop the national teams.
Nkom added that NHF also needed a technical manager who would help the teams prepare for international tournaments, particularly the Tokyo Olympics qualifying events in 2019.
He said: “Even though we have one of the best facilities in Africa, we still need the support of the ministry in getting a technical manager who will help groom our young talents and prepare us for international tournaments.
“We want the ministry to come to our aid in terms of equipment and most importantly to help us change the surfaces on our pitches so that the beautiful edifice will be able to meet international standard and also be kept in a good shape.”
Seif Ahmed, the President of Afhf, also commended the present NHF administration for its role in the resurgence of Nigerian hockey and called on the government to come to the Federation’s aid.
Ahmed said: “I will like to thank the existing board who changed the idea we have in our mind about Nigerian hockey, because in the past it is either they come after the tournament starts or pull out in the last minute and make a mess of the tournament.
“But that has changed, and now I am calling on the government to help the federation.
“I am really impressed with the pitch I saw during this competition because in 2003 I was here and to see the pitch in good condition is really impressive.
“But the pitch and stadium needs maintenance and upgrade.
“We want the government to help the federation get new turfs on the pitches because we want Nigeria to host international tournaments.
But these turfs can only host the junior championships.
“The current turfs need to be changed so you can host the international tournaments and improve on your game, because if you don’t play against stronger teams you can’t improve or learn.
“Also, as we prepare for Tokyo 2020 I hope you will send your teams — men and women — to South Africa for the qualifiers in August next year.
“And it is not just about sending the teams to participate, but to come and perform.”
Ahmed added that the Nigerian federation needed to be assisted to prepare early and prepare well in order to perform well.