Parents Of Gymnasts Step In As Sports Ministry Fails Again
The embarrassment Nigeria sports has been witnessing in recent times took a new dimension in Abuja Tuesday when parents of budding gymnasts had to intervene to ensure no administrative bottleneck scuttles the ambition of their children in becoming renowned gymnasts.
Some parents have bankrolled the cost of flying their wards to South Africa to take part in the Level 4 Gymnastics Championship taking place in that country between the 5th and 21st of August.
Eleven budding gymnasts between five and 14 years, four parents and the technical director of the Gymnastics Federation of Nigeria (GFN), Tony Asuquo made the trip.
Addressing the media shortly before jetting out of the country, Asuquo said the championship is in line with the aspiration of the GFN to raise gymnasts from the cradle and prepare them to challenge for the highest title in the sport in the nearest future.
However, the technical director while appealing to the Ministry of Youth and Sports to fulfil its promise of paying refunds for the flight tickets, thanked the parents of the children for accepting to pick up the bills pending when the government will fulfil its obligation.
“We are happy for this opportunity to expose these children early in life and I want to assure Nigerians that very soon what we are doing today will begin to pay off when these children will mount the world podium in big championships like the Olympics”
Responding on behalf of the parents, Mrs. Deleny Udele appealed to the federal government to always live up to its responsibility to provide the necessary logistics and assistance for Nigerian athletes.
“We want to appeal to the federal government to always live up to its responsibility of providing for the sports men and women who represent this great country.
As you can see it is we, the parents that are 100% bankrolling this trip for these children and they are going to represent Nigeria and not our individual families.”
Some of the travelling gymnasts include; Lara Arnot and Tueren Hagher who are five and nine years respectively. It has become an everyday scenario where Nigerian athletes train towards international events only to end up not getting to the airport. The excuse has been lack of funds.
This year alone, the country has missed three major developmental championships due to “lack of funds”. A few months back, the African Junior Championships held in Algeria without Nigeria.
The case was not different when the IAAF U-19 Championship held in Kenya as Nigeria did not send a single athlete to the east African country.
The biggest scandal was the non-representation of Nigeria at the just-concluded Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas, a country the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung visited to inspect facilities prior to the games.
The minister was to later blame some foreign embassies for the woes Nigerian athletes have been going through in his hands.
The ministry that complains of paucity of funds recently conducted elections into federation boards, a step which was against all known statutes of international sporting bodies. Millions of Naira were sunk into the exercise which was not supposed to be its duty..