Sports Minister/Chairman of the National Sports Commission (NSC), Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Nigeria's failure to win medals at the on going London 2012 Olympic Games has been described as another opportunity for the country to go and work hard rather than relying on prayers to succeed at global sports competitions.
Sports Minister/Chairman of the National Sports Commission (NSC), Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, while addressing sports journalists covering the Olympic Games here at the Nigeria House in Stratford, London yesterday, insisted that the era of banking on prayers and miracles to happen are gone.
"God is using this performance here to tell us that we should go and work harder if we want to win medals. There is no magic to winning the precious metals any more," observed the minister, who is equally depressed as most Nigerians because of the inability of our competition compatriots to get a medal, with just two days to closing ceremony.
While fielding questions, Abdullahi further insisted: "I don't want to be a minister that leads team out without winning medals. Yes, sports can be used to create employment, development and even correct social ills but winning medals is more important for a nation."
The former youth development minister admitted that the scrapping of boarding house system from schools created a disconnect with school sports.
"Those days in schools, sports was integral part of the system. As boarders, it used to be time for physical training during school hours and another round of sports shortly after observing the siesta. But all that is now in the past with the stopping of the boarding house system in most public schools," he noted.
Abdullahi doubted the possibility of its reintroduction because of its intensive capital nature.
"It will take a major policy decision and funding from the Federal Government and I don't that is possible now."
In order to create the atmosphere that will allow the organised private sector to be involved in sports funding, the minister pleaded with journalists to stop portraying the sector as totally riddled with corruption.
"Only 40 per cent of Great Britain's sports funding comes from the government. The rest is from the private sector. It cost China $1m to train the 16-year-old girl that won a swimming gold medal here. UK Lottery funded the preparation of Team Great Britain. How do we attract investors into sports when all we read every day is how funds are mismanaged," said the minister who is hoping for a massive shift from over dependence on government.