Seven-time Olympian, Segun Toriola, has indicted states sports ministries and councils, saying they are not doing enough to help sports development in the country.
Team Nigeria failed again at the just concluded Rio Olympics. The usual problem of poor funding raised its ugly head when money that ought to have been used for training of athletes was released barely few days to the commencement of the Games.
Speaking recently, Toriola said that people should not always blame the Nigeria Olympics Committee (NOC), because there is pressure of picking the best athletes to represent the country.
“The Nigeria Olympics Committee cannot take care of everybody,” he said. “The problem of sports in Nigeria is not the NOC, but the states sports councils. I remember when I was a young table tennis player in the 70s and 80s, my state sports council catered for everything that I needed. Starting from the bat to the canvass, which I used, were provided by my state sports ministry. It is not the same these days.
“I must give kudos to the Lagos State government for putting enough into sports development. It is only in Lagos in the last eight years that one can say has done a lot in terms of encouraging the youths in achieving their potentials. The President of Nigeria Table Tennis Federation, Wahid Oshodi, has done a lot for sports, especially, in table tennis, and the state has not relented in that regards,” he said.
Toriola, who is the first African to compete in seven Olympic Games and was equally honoured by International Table Tennis Federation for his feat, said the last 2016 ITTF World Tour Premier Lotto Nigeria Open (Challenge) exposed many of these sports councils redundancy.
“Many of the athletes that competed at this year’s ITTF World Tour in the junior category went through hell. Majority of them said they were given money by their parents. Even some said they had to go borrowing. This never happened in my days and it does not speak well of the reason why the states sports councils were put in place. They were actually set up to nurture talents from the states after which the NOC or the Sport Commission will groom them to national stardom,” he said.