My 2019 Sportsman of the Year

John Momoh

By Tayo Balogun

In a country where almost everything is at sixes and sevens it is usually difficult to see excellence. Or even the absence of it. In a situation where a strive to win is replaced by cheating to win you hardly would find anything worth celebrating. It is saying the obvious if one contends that our country is regressing in almost every aspect of our lives. Like the legendary Fela Kuti would say our countrymen have become ‘ sufferheads’ in a land that has all it takes to live well and prosperously. In our country now it’s like watching madness in slow motion. Otherwise sane men appear to have been stung by a dementing bug that makes you wave bye to all that is rational in you.

Gradually it is becoming difficult to distinguish between what is right and that which is wrong. Last year our countrymen appear like Luigi Pirandelo’s actors in ‘ Six Characters in Search of an Authour.’ It’s like those acting like Nigerians in the Theatre of Life are really not representatives of who we are in reality. Somehow it appears we really don’t know what we want but do not like what we have. Our values keep getting debased and assaulted.

In Sports for instance we would like to be Number One in Africa where we can not be World Champions. But our officials would rather have more money in their pockets than expend same on training athletes. And when we fail we pretend not to know the cause of the failure. We then go on to waste money on finding out what has been found out several times.

Last week one Segun Adediwura who claims to be a regular reader of this column wanted to know who should be named ‘Sportsman of the Year for 2019’ According to him his club is planning to name and reward anyone they identified as having contributed to our sport the most this past year. I asked who he considered worthy of the award. He wasn’t hesitant in choosing Anthony Joshua. Reluctantly we both concluded that AJ does not qualify as he has won all his laurels fighting as a British boxer even if he has never failed to proclaim his ties to our country. We considered many other options until we both concluded that we should not restrict our choices to active sportsmen but to consider organizations and individuals who have contributed to the development of sport.

My choice was Channels TV or John Momoh used interchangeably. But before I go on let me do what Dr Frank Ugboaja taught me at the University of Lagos Mass Communication Graduate School. Always declare your bias before stating a point of view. I have some relationship with John Momoh and Channels TV. I know that for the past year no organization has done as much as Channels to promote and develop sport in our country. Last year it spent a princely amount to organize both the annual highly successful Channels International Kids Cup and Channels U17 Athletics Championship. Both competitions are structured to redefine our sports and in the process recreate what used to be our niche – being amongst the best in the world. Already the two tournaments are yeilding expected fruits. Some graduates of the Kids Cup are finding their ways to our National Teams. And the novel U17 Classics have produced athletes who have represented Nigeria at World Youth levels. In the near future what Channels TV is doing would serve as a launchpad for our renaissance in sports. As Toni Urhobo a one Chairman of the AFN puts it after watching last year’s Classic, ‘… Channels must be encouraged to continue this laudable programme if we must find our way back to the glorious days. What they are doing is what we never should have stopped.’

I therefore have no doubt in saying that last year Channels TV is the Sports Organization of the Year by laying a solid foundation for the growth and development of our sports particularly in football and athletics.They have dared where others wouldn’t.
May the LORD bless our country Nigeria.