Athletes burning up the tracks at Eko 2012
A board member of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Dr Gloria Obajimi, Wednesday called for the revival of school sports as a way of stimulating interest in athletics in the country.
Obajimi told NAN in Lagos on telephone that the base on which to breed those to replace the elite athletes had weakened over time.
“We do not have a foundation or programmes where younger athletes can be groomed to replace the ageing elite athletes which have led to some overbearing pressure on the elite athletes.
“We cannot forget the schools in the development of sports in the country, especially athletics, because many of us were discovered from the schools.
“This was made possible because there were many competitions available for us to participate in as students, such as inter-school competitions and inter-house sports,” she said. Obajimi added that the focus on school sports would not only assist in identifying talents at a younger age but create avenues for coaches remain abreast with new developments in the sport.
“If sports are revived in schools, it will provide opportunities for qualified coaches to be assigned or employed by such schools and in the process, facilitate the education of coaches.
“Another deficiency of athletics in the country is that our coaches are not adequately educated. Many of them are not up to date,” she said.
The AFN board member told NAN that because of the dearth of sports in schools, the training of athletes had been difficult at older ages at which they were being discovered.
“What some athletes could have learnt in schools if they started at the schools, are now being taught to them at late ages, thereby making training and re-training difficult,” she added.