Duties and functions

Sports Administrators and Kitting Athletes Challenge

Oluwatobiloba Ayomide Amusan

Aug. 07 (THEWILL) — The pride felt nationwide as Oluwatobiloba Ayomide Amusan broke a world record in the women’s 100m relay semifinals at the recently concluded 18th World Championships in Athletics in Oregon, USA States, was in stark contrast to the pain, agony and suffering that has been the lot of the average Nigerian in recent times.

The waning value of the naira, the plummeting economy and rising inflation had contributed so much to the suffering of the average Nigerian that Amusan’s record win ushered in a moment of soothing relief and a sense of pride. The country’s name was in the media in a positive light, a rarity these days. It was an occasion to savor and an accomplishment to bask in. Far from the embarrassing negative baggage associated with Nigeria’s green-white-green identity, the national anthem played as Amusan stood proudly on the podium with his gold medal around his neck. and tears of pride streamed down her cheeks.

It was from this height of pride that Team Nigeria entered the competition for Commonwealth Games honors in the English Midlands city of Birmingham. The athletes were full of enthusiasm, riding a wave of positive zeal as they were joined by Amusan, fresh off of her world record feats and Ese Brume, who took silver in the long jump female with a jump of 7.02 meters. , an improvement from his bronze medal at previous championships.

The positive energy and good humor were once again canceled out by an administrative disappointment. In a very clear sign that the country’s sports administrators have learned nothing from the kitting fiasco that turned into a national embarrassment for Nigeria at the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan and the misspelling of the name of the country in the sportswear worn by the country’s athletes at the World Championships. in Oregon, there was a last-minute scramble to find kits for the country’s contingent in Birmingham on the eve of the opening ceremony.

The international disgrace that could have ensued was averted by a UK-based sportswear company, whose manager initially thought requests sent to his company to make kits for use at the Commonwealth Games were a joke. It was how incredulous he was and it gave some idea of ​​the chaotic preparation that those responsible for making these kits available to our hard working athletes were involved in. Those kits which the athletes were supposed to wear on Friday did not arrive and on Tuesday the Nigerian Athletics Federation went into panic mode and started scrambling to find a solution. As a result, a normal working day for Kidderminster-based MG Sportswear and its 14 employees turned into a frantic race to produce enough kits to suit the athletes. Director Gino Ruffinato admitted that as soon as they were convinced it was a real emergency, they got the fabric, print and designs to work with and it was immediately “work stations.” panic “. They had to spend long hours to fulfill the order for 200 pieces of equipment with 400 Nigerian badges on them, including running vests and shorts and staff tracksuits.

Given the short notice, it took everything they had to complete the order and deliver just in time for the strong contingent of 93 men to carry and represent Nigeria at the various events they had worked so hard to compete for. . everything could have been if something had gone wrong along the line. The very strict rules on identification and cohesion kits that the organizers of the Games respect are non-negotiable. Unfortunately, Nigeria has a long history of not doing things right. As early as 2014, at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, Nigerian athletes used tape to cover the sponsor’s name on the various kits they wore for their events, as it differed from the official Nigeria team sponsors. . When these masking tapes fell off during competitions, it became embarrassing that the Commonwealth Games Federation, CGF, had to formally question the Nigerian Olympic Committee, NOC, about the inconsistency of Nigerian athletes’ kits at the Games. It is incredibly upsetting and disheartening that eight years later sports administrators are failing to organize the kit properly.

The excuse for Birmingham’s near-miss came from the Federal Department of Youth Development and Sport, who tried to excuse themselves from embarrassment. Toyin Ibitoye, the Sports Minister’s Special Assistant for the Media, who provided the ministry’s explanation on the kit issue, said, “About 300 Nigeria team kits were delivered more than two weeks and have since been distributed to almost all the athletes.These kits, which are the general kits procured by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, as is the practice, have since been distributed to the athletes. include tracksuits, homewear, trainers, caps, backpacks, roller bags, shorts and formal wear Team Nigeria athletes have since donned them in Birmingham, like this was evident at Thursday night’s opening ceremony and other team functions. However, the competition kits for each federation differ. Each federation produces specific competition kits for its athletes. The ministry is aware that the s federations have their own agreements with different manufacturers with different delivery times and expectations which are followed very closely. We hope this clarification will help put the issue in perspective to avoid any distractions for Nigeria’s athletes and team officials.

At this level and in this age of interconnectedness, a lack of synergy is hardly an acceptable excuse for one embarrassing kit issue after another at international competitions where the country’s athletes do their best to bring honor and glory. on behalf of the country. The Ministry’s feeble defense attempt smacks of mediocrity and irresponsibility, as the watchdog functions and supervisory roles fall on the Ministry to ensure that there are no repeats of such embarrassing situations at every international competition. .

At the just-concluded world championships in Oregon, on the kit that sprinter Favor Ofili wore during the 4x100m relay event, the letter “i” was missing from the spelling of Nigeria, so it s spelled NIGERA.

In their defence, Prince Adeniyi Adisa Beyioku, the AFN Secretary General, turned on the Nigerians, who were unimpressed by the error and, while calling those who reacted “a few idlers “, explained that the spelling error was “a factory error made by the giant sportswear and equipment company, Nike, and which only affected the vest Ofili wore at the championships.

The fact is why does this continue to happen in Nigeria if not that there is an apparent lack of professionalism and attention to detail in all aspects of the participation of Nigerian athletes in these competitions?

If sports administrators can devote a fraction of the commitment that Nigerian athletes devote to their preparation for these competitions often botched by inept sports administration, the difference will be apparent to all.

THEWILL recalls that during the Olympics a year ago, a viral video posted through the account of Nigerian Olympics shot put finalist, Chukwuebuka Enekwechi, via TikTok quickly became the cause of several harsh criticisms of the government over the well -be of the country’s contingent before the video was deleted. Nigerians have denounced the treatment of athletes representing the country characterized by Enekwechi washing his jersey ahead of the August 5 final of the shot put event he qualified for. Yet instead of using all the available time to get ready, he got caught up in laundry chores because, as he captioned the video, he had no choice: “When you made the final Olympic, but you only have one shirt.”

Many critics have recalled the embarrassing disqualification of as many as 10 Nigerian athletes for failing to meet standard testing requirements due to “negligence by officials” from the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) where infighting at the top rendered athletics governance null and void. . It is the same incompetence that continues to embarrass the country even as dedicated athletes, even para-powerlifting athletes, continue to shine the light of victory over the country to make Nigerians proud of the green-white- green and the anthem that calls everyone to “Arise, o compatriots…”