Olympics' challenge for senator Enoh

Mon, Jul 8, 2024
By editor
16 MIN READ

Opinion

 By Emmanuel Onwubiko

 “THE most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”

– Pierre de Coubertin (primarily responsible for the revival of the Olympic Games in 1894)_ 

 “All I’ve done is run fast. I don’t see why people should make much fuss about that.”

– Fanny Blankers-Koen (Dutch sprinter who won four gold medals at the 1948 Summer Olympics)

With the Paris 2024 Olympic Games fast approaching, Nigeria stands at a critical juncture. The optimism expressed by Senator John Owan Enoh, the*Olympics’ Challenge for Senator Enoh

With the Paris 2024 Olympic Games fast approaching, Nigeria stands at a critical juncture. The optimism expressed by Senator John Owan Enoh, the Honourable Minister of Sports Development, about Team Nigeria’s preparations, is a bright spot amidst a landscape of both potential and significant challenges. As a nation, we must take a closer look at our readiness, the seamless qualifications of our athletes, and the urgent need for both federal and state governments to ensure adequate support and funding. Additionally, the involvement of the private sector and the rejuvenation of grassroots sports are essential for long-term success. Moreover, Nigeria’s ongoing struggle with the doping black book of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) must be addressed urgently. 

Senator Enoh’s recent statements highlight the ongoing efforts to prepare Team Nigeria for the Olympics. From the Super Falcons training in Spain to the Basketball team’s foreign camp, it is clear that steps are being taken to get our athletes ready. However, the race against time is evident, and there are multiple facets to consider.

The Olympics are not just another competition; they are the pinnacle of global sports, where the best athletes from around the world converge. Our preparation, therefore, cannot afford to be anything less than meticulous. This means going beyond basic training camps and ensuring our athletes have access to world-class facilities, advanced training programs, and exposure to international competitions. The Ministerial Podium Performance Committee’s involvement is crucial, but it needs to adopt a more proactive and innovative approach.

Regular assessments of athletes’ progress, the use of sports science, and updated training methodologies are all part of what it takes to compete at the highest level. Nigeria must focus on sports where we have historically excelled, like athletics, boxing, and football, while also nurturing talent in emerging disciplines such as basketball and gymnastics. A diversified approach will enhance our chances of bringing home medals.

The qualifications of Nigerian athletes for the Paris Olympics offer a glimmer of hope and a source of national pride. Their dedication and resilience, often in the face of inadequate resources and support, are commendable. These athletes have shown that with the right support, they can compete with the best in the world.

Their seamless qualifications are not just a testament to their talent but also reflect the effectiveness of local sports federations in identifying and nurturing talent. This success should be built upon with targeted support programs, ensuring that these athletes have access to the best possible training facilities, both domestically and internationally. Partnerships with countries known for their sporting excellence could provide our athletes with invaluable exposure and experience.

The role of the Federal Government in ensuring adequate funding and motivation for our Olympians cannot be overstated. While Senator Enoh’s gratitude to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his support is encouraging, words must translate into actions. Historically, financial constraints have hindered Nigeria’s performance on the global stage. This must change.

The government needs to allocate sufficient resources to cover all aspects of the athletes’ needs, from training and travel to accommodation and healthcare. Motivation goes beyond financial incentives; it includes creating an environment where athletes feel valued and supported. Regular interactions with sports psychologists, nutritionists, and other experts can significantly enhance their well-being and performance.

In addition to financial support, the government should implement a robust reward system for medal-winning athletes. This could include cash prizes, scholarships, and long-term career opportunities. Recognizing and celebrating the achievements of our athletes will not only motivate them but also inspire upcoming talents to take sports seriously.

State governments have a crucial role to play in creating an enabling environment for the private sector to invest in grassroots sports. The potential for private sector involvement in sports development is immense. Corporate sponsorships, partnerships with sports academies, and investment in sports infrastructure can significantly elevate the standard of sports in Nigeria.

One of the most effective ways to develop a pool of skilled young athletes is through school sports programs. The vibrant school sports culture of the 1980s and 1990s was instrumental in discovering and nurturing talents. State governments need to reinvigorate these programs by investing in school sports facilities, organizing regular inter-school competitions, and incorporating sports into the school curriculum. By doing so, they can create a robust pipeline of young athletes ready to compete at national and international levels.

Furthermore, the private sector can play a pivotal role in funding and organizing these school sports programs. Companies could sponsor inter-school competitions, provide sports kits, and fund scholarships for talented young athletes. Public-private partnerships in sports development can create a sustainable model that ensures consistent talent identification and nurturing.

As Team Nigeria heads to Paris, professionalism and discipline must be the watchwords. Our athletes need to adopt a professional approach in all aspects of their preparation and participation. This includes adhering to training schedules, maintaining peak physical condition, and upholding the highest standards of conduct.

Doping remains a significant concern in sports, and Nigerian athletes must be vigilant in avoiding any substances that could tarnish their reputation and the nation’s image. Nigeria’s continued presence in WADA’s doping black book is a stark reminder of the work that needs to be done. The Nigerian authorities should implement stringent anti-doping measures and provide continuous education to athletes about the dangers and consequences of doping. Regular drug testing and strict penalties for violations should be enforced to maintain a clean and fair competition environment.

Additionally, the role of coaches and support staff is crucial in instilling professionalism and discipline among athletes. Continuous education and training for coaches will ensure that they are equipped with the latest techniques and knowledge to guide athletes effectively. Mentorship programs involving former Olympians and sports legends could also provide invaluable guidance and inspiration to the athletes.

The Olympics are not just a sports event; they are a strategic opportunity for nations to showcase their prowess and enhance their global image. The seamless qualifications of Nigerian athletes should be leveraged to energize the nation and garner widespread support. The Nigerian athletics federation and other sports bodies must engage in robust publicity campaigns to rally public support and instill a sense of national pride.

In countries like the United States and China, the Olympics are seen as a platform to demonstrate national strength and unity. Nigeria should adopt a similar approach, where the success of its athletes is celebrated as a collective national achievement. This involves not just the sports community but the entire nation, from government officials to private citizens.

Public engagement campaigns, including media partnerships, social media drives, and community events, can help build a sense of anticipation and support for the athletes. Highlighting the personal stories of athletes, their journey, and their struggles can humanize them and create a deeper connection with the public. This collective support can serve as a powerful motivator for the athletes as they compete on the global stage.

State governments should not only focus on immediate preparations for the Olympics but also look at long-term sports development strategies. They should challenge themselves to create a conducive environment for sports to thrive as a viable business within their states. This includes building sports facilities, providing financial incentives for private sector investments, and establishing talent development programs.

Grassroots sports development is fundamental to creating a sustainable sports culture. State governments must invest in community sports centers, support local leagues, and encourage sports participation at all levels. They should also collaborate with schools to ensure that sports education is an integral part of the curriculum, fostering a generation of athletes who see sports as a viable career path.

The reintroduction and reinvigoration of school sports programs can serve as a critical pipeline for discovering and nurturing young talents. Schools should regularly organize sports competitions, and state governments should support these initiatives by providing the necessary infrastructure and funding. Creating a robust school sports system will ensure that talented young athletes are identified early and given the opportunity to develop their skills.

In conclusion, the Paris 2024 Olympics present both an opportunity and a challenge for Senator Enoh and the Nigerian sports community. While there is optimism about the preparations, the journey ahead requires meticulous planning, substantial investment, and unwavering support from all stakeholders. The Federal Government must act swiftly to ensure adequate funding and motivation for the athletes. State governments should foster private sector involvement and rejuvenate school sports programs to discover and nurture young talents.

Ultimately, the success of Team Nigeria at the Olympics will be determined by the professionalism, efficiency, and discipline of the athletes. They must avoid doping, focus on their performance, and strive to bring home medals. By doing so, they can not only elevate Nigeria’s standing in the global sports arena but also inspire future generations of Nigerian athletes. The 2024 Olympics should be seen as a strategic opportunity for Nigeria to showcase its potential and achieve sporting excellence on the world stage.

The challenge is immense, but with concerted efforts from the Federal Government, state governments, the private sector, and the athletes themselves, Nigeria can rise to the occasion and make a lasting impact at the Paris Olympics and beyond. Honourable Minister of Sports Development, about Team Nigeria’s preparations, is a bright spot amidst a landscape of both potential and significant challenges. As a nation, we must take a closer look at our readiness, the seamless qualifications of our athletes, and the urgent need for both federal and state governments to ensure adequate support and funding. Additionally, the involvement of the private sector and the rejuvenation of grassroots sports are essential for long-term success. Moreover, Nigeria’s ongoing struggle with the doping black book of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) must be addressed urgently. 

Senator Enoh’s recent statements highlight the ongoing efforts to prepare Team Nigeria for the Olympics. From the Super Falcons training in Spain to the Basketball team’s foreign camp, it is clear that steps are being taken to get our athletes ready. However, the race against time is evident, and there are multiple facets to consider.

The Olympics are not just another competition; they are the pinnacle of global sports, where the best athletes from around the world converge. Our preparation, therefore, cannot afford to be anything less than meticulous. This means going beyond basic training camps and ensuring our athletes have access to world-class facilities, advanced training programs, and exposure to international competitions. The Ministerial Podium Performance Committee’s involvement is crucial, but it needs to adopt a more proactive and innovative approach.

Regular assessments of athletes’ progress, the use of sports science, and updated training methodologies are all part of what it takes to compete at the highest level. Nigeria must focus on sports where we have historically excelled, like athletics, boxing, and football, while also nurturing talent in emerging disciplines such as basketball and gymnastics. A diversified approach will enhance our chances of bringing home medals.

The qualifications of Nigerian athletes for the Paris Olympics offer a glimmer of hope and a source of national pride. Their dedication and resilience, often in the face of inadequate resources and support, are commendable. These athletes have shown that with the right support, they can compete with the best in the world.

Their seamless qualifications are not just a testament to their talent but also reflect the effectiveness of local sports federations in identifying and nurturing talent. This success should be built upon with targeted support programs, ensuring that these athletes have access to the best possible training facilities, both domestically and internationally. Partnerships with countries known for their sporting excellence could provide our athletes with invaluable exposure and experience.

The role of the Federal Government in ensuring adequate funding and motivation for our Olympians cannot be overstated. While Senator Enoh’s gratitude to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his support is encouraging, words must translate into actions. Historically, financial constraints have hindered Nigeria’s performance on the global stage. This must change.

The government needs to allocate sufficient resources to cover all aspects of the athletes’ needs, from training and travel to accommodation and healthcare. Motivation goes beyond financial incentives; it includes creating an environment where athletes feel valued and supported. Regular interactions with sports psychologists, nutritionists, and other experts can significantly enhance their well-being and performance.

In addition to financial support, the government should implement a robust reward system for medal-winning athletes. This could include cash prizes, scholarships, and long-term career opportunities. Recognizing and celebrating the achievements of our athletes will not only motivate them but also inspire upcoming talents to take sports seriously.

State governments have a crucial role to play in creating an enabling environment for the private sector to invest in grassroots sports. The potential for private sector involvement in sports development is immense. Corporate sponsorships, partnerships with sports academies, and investment in sports infrastructure can significantly elevate the standard of sports in Nigeria.

One of the most effective ways to develop a pool of skilled young athletes is through school sports programs. The vibrant school sports culture of the 1980s and 1990s was instrumental in discovering and nurturing talents. State governments need to reinvigorate these programs by investing in school sports facilities, organizing regular inter-school competitions, and incorporating sports into the school curriculum. By doing so, they can create a robust pipeline of young athletes ready to compete at national and international levels.

Furthermore, the private sector can play a pivotal role in funding and organizing these school sports programs. Companies could sponsor inter-school competitions, provide sports kits, and fund scholarships for talented young athletes. Public-private partnerships in sports development can create a sustainable model that ensures consistent talent identification and nurturing.

As Team Nigeria heads to Paris, professionalism and discipline must be the watchwords. Our athletes need to adopt a professional approach in all aspects of their preparation and participation. This includes adhering to training schedules, maintaining peak physical condition, and upholding the highest standards of conduct.

Doping remains a significant concern in sports, and Nigerian athletes must be vigilant in avoiding any substances that could tarnish their reputation and the nation’s image. Nigeria’s continued presence in WADA’s doping black book is a stark reminder of the work that needs to be done. The Nigerian authorities should implement stringent anti-doping measures and provide continuous education to athletes about the dangers and consequences of doping. Regular drug testing and strict penalties for violations should be enforced to maintain a clean and fair competition environment.

Additionally, the role of coaches and support staff is crucial in instilling professionalism and discipline among athletes. Continuous education and training for coaches will ensure that they are equipped with the latest techniques and knowledge to guide athletes effectively. Mentorship programs involving former Olympians and sports legends could also provide invaluable guidance and inspiration to the athletes.

The Olympics are not just a sports event; they are a strategic opportunity for nations to showcase their prowess and enhance their global image. The seamless qualifications of Nigerian athletes should be leveraged to energize the nation and garner widespread support. The Nigerian athletics federation and other sports bodies must engage in robust publicity campaigns to rally public support and instill a sense of national pride.

In countries like the United States and China, the Olympics are seen as a platform to demonstrate national strength and unity. Nigeria should adopt a similar approach, where the success of its athletes is celebrated as a collective national achievement. This involves not just the sports community but the entire nation, from government officials to private citizens.

Public engagement campaigns, including media partnerships, social media drives, and community events, can help build a sense of anticipation and support for the athletes. Highlighting the personal stories of athletes, their journey, and their struggles can humanize them and create a deeper connection with the public. This collective support can serve as a powerful motivator for the athletes as they compete on the global stage.

State governments should not only focus on immediate preparations for the Olympics but also look at long-term sports development strategies. They should challenge themselves to create a conducive environment for sports to thrive as a viable business within their states. This includes building sports facilities, providing financial incentives for private sector investments, and establishing talent development programs.

Grassroots sports development is fundamental to creating a sustainable sports culture. State governments must invest in community sports centers, support local leagues, and encourage sports participation at all levels. They should also collaborate with schools to ensure that sports education is an integral part of the curriculum, fostering a generation of athletes who see sports as a viable career path.

The reintroduction and reinvigoration of school sports programs can serve as a critical pipeline for discovering and nurturing young talents. Schools should regularly organize sports competitions, and state governments should support these initiatives by providing the necessary infrastructure and funding. Creating a robust school sports system will ensure that talented young athletes are identified early and given the opportunity to develop their skills.

In conclusion, the Paris 2024 Olympics present both an opportunity and a challenge for Senator Enoh and the Nigerian sports community. While there is optimism about the preparations, the journey ahead requires meticulous planning, substantial investment, and unwavering support from all stakeholders. The Federal Government must act swiftly to ensure adequate funding and motivation for the athletes. State governments should foster private sector involvement and rejuvenate school sports programs to discover and nurture young talents.

Ultimately, the success of Team Nigeria at the Olympics will be determined by the professionalism, efficiency, and discipline of the athletes. They must avoid doping, focus on their performance, and strive to bring home medals. By doing so, they can not only elevate Nigeria’s standing in the global sports arena but also inspire future generations of Nigerian athletes. The 2024 Olympics should be seen as a strategic opportunity for Nigeria to showcase its potential and achieve sporting excellence on the world stage.

The challenge is immense, but with concerted efforts from the Federal Government, state governments, the private sector, and the athletes themselves, Nigeria can rise to the occasion and make a lasting impact at the Paris Olympics and beyond.

***Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and was NATIONAL COMMISSIONER OF THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA.

A.I

July 08, 2024 @ 17:25 GMT|

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