Tunde Popoola, the General Secretary of the Nigerian Olympics Committee, has blamed the continuous decline in Nigerian sports on poor facilities, inadequate funding as well as leadership crisis.
Popoola made this known in Osogbo while featuring as a guest at the monthly forum of the Osun chapter of Sports Writers’ Association of Nigeria.
He said if the challenges were not tackled headlong, sports would continue to take a turn for the worst in the country.
All categories of sports in the country, he said, should be properly funded while those who head federations and sports ministries should be chosen from the field of sports.
Popoola, a former international hockey player, stressed that developed countries had been successful in sports due to the huge investment in the game through private sector contributions.
He said what was required of the government was to provide the enabling environment and platform for sports to thrive.
Popoola insisted that all sports federations must be independent, well managed and led by professionals who would work in accordance with the government’s policy.
He said all successful Nigerian athletes must be commended for their unrelenting and personal hard work, dedication, commitment and patriotism.
Popoola added that the country had not lived up to expectations in terms of providing funding, facilities and welfare for athletes.
He said: “We must commend those who have won laurels for Nigeria at the national and international levels because they achieved this not on the platter of gold but by the dint of hard work.
“Some of them spend their personal money to buy sporting equipment required for training, camping, preparation and even embarking on self-sponsorship to participate in some events.
“Government at all levels should do more in terms welfare of athletes and their coaches and ensure that adequate backup is provided for federations which should also be financially independent to be able to run its activities successfully.”
Popoola gave an assurance that the NOC had been fine-tuning its strategies to ensure a successful outing for Nigerian athletes at the forthcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.