By Olawale Ajimotokan
An appeal has been made to government to consider the need to put in place a sports endowment funds that will alleviate the hardship of Nigerian sportsmen when they can no longer compete actively.
This suggestion was made recently by the Director General of the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, when the executive committee of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) FCT Chapter, paid a courtesy visit to him.
Runsewe decried the situation where Nigerian athletes resort to begging or depending on handouts after their active years in service of the country.
“We must put in place a policy on sports endowment funds which will alleviate the hardship of our ex-sportsmen and women, who through their efforts at international competitions help in changing the perception of the country,” Runsewe said.
An endowment fund is an interest earning pool of money, invested in perpetuity and dedicated to the cause of securing the future of athletes.
While they are commonly used in the United States by cultural organisations, the concept of an endowment fund is in entirety a novel idea in Nigeria.
According to Runsewe, the idea should be considered on its merit as it always painful to see that some of Nigeria’s elite athletes are usually not in a position to cater for their personal needs in retirement.
“Many of those sportsmen that once represented Nigeria are living below poverty line because of neglect and poor retirement plan. Where is Etim Esin today? Look at how the legendary Rashidi Yekini died without proper care!
“Someone like Chris Udemezue, who coached the Super Eagles in 1984-85, died on the street of Kaduna because he could not afford to pay his medical bills. The endowment funds policy will adequately recognize the contribution of those individuals and others in their category,” he said.