Eko 2012 sports festival receives both kudos and knocks from athletes and officials as the curtain of the 12-day championship falls in Lagos
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Dec. 17, 2012 @01:00 GMT
THE 18th edition of the National Sports Festival, Eko 2012, might has come and gone. But the various experiences of the athletes and officials would remain for a while in their memories. Enesi Junior, a technical official for cricket from Kaduna State, commended the state for providing enabling environment. “The environment is okay. I have observed that what Lagos State has offered is better than what it used to be in terms of facilities.”
Aondowase Chia, Benue state commissioner for sports, was full of praises for the Lagos State for staging a befitting festival. He said he was impressed with the state of modern facilities he has seen in the state. “I am satisfied with the facilities on the ground. We are here to improve on our earlier position at the last festival in Port Harcourt,” he said.
But, Hassan Abdulahi, Niger State commissioner for sports and youth development, lamented that his contingent had not been given the required hospitality expected in a festival of this nature. He said despite the huge investment that the Lagos State government has made in the project; there was no food for his team. “The tickets issued to athletes for meals did not reach us, there was no water to drink, facilities were poor in some sports venues,” he said.
Unlike Abdulahi, Deji Aliu, technical and performance director of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, was very positive. He expressed his satisfaction in the number of athletes discovered during the festival. He said the association has shortlisted outstanding athletes at the festival to represent Nigeria at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. He explained that the poor outing of the Nigerian contingent to the London 2012 Olympic Games, was a wake-up call for the federation, hence the need to start early preparations for the next Olympics.
In spite of the praises, there were complaints from participating states on the state of facilities provided for the festival. Some of them claimed of inadequate accommodation, substandard facilities at some of the game centres and shortage of food. Specifically, the Kaduna State contingent claimed that the food provided by the state was very poor. It also complained of poor distribution of water at the Fafunwa Hall of the University of Lagos.
Some of the athletes said there was need for replacement of the electrical fittings in the hostels. They added that they could be compelled to sleep outside the hostels because of the harsh smell of the wall paintings that were still fresh. One of the athletes alleged that some of the floors of their hostel at the University lacked adequate water supply. “The upper floor of the Fafunwa Hall has a problem with water supply. We are forced to always move downstairs each time we need water. That is not good enough; the officials should please correct the situation. The quantity of food given to us is also very little and not enough for me,” he said.
Moses Itodo one of the athletes complained of the quality of food being served to them. He said a nutritionist ought to have been hired rather than just leaving the food preparation aspect to caterers. “We were given yam and tea in the morning, which is not good for breakfast. We ought to eat something light because it helps us to move and also stay fit. I did not eat the yam and egg because I needed something that will keep me agile. A nutritionist who knows the rudiments could have planned better dieting for the athletes,” he said.
Boma Douglas, Rivers State boxing coach, said he was disappointed with the standard of the festival especially the boxing events. He explained that the standard showed that boxing in Nigeria was still at the rudimentary stage. He called on the relevant authorities to use the festival to restore the glory of boxing in the country. “In the past, we had boxing championship every month but there is hardly any attempt to revive the sport in this country. In those days, boxing talents were discovered during the monthly boxing tournaments but with that initiative dead, it is difficult to identify good boxers. At international events, we had the best boxers representing us and coming back with medals,” he said.
Segun Daodu, chairman of the catering sub-committee of the festival, said the alleged shortage of food for some athletes and officials was caused by their states. He claimed that some states brought in more athletes than they registered. “Every state has a specific number of athletes and officials that are to be taken care of, which was approved by the Main Organising Committee, MOC, but unfortunately, some of them brought more than the number registered with the committee. It was this same number that was passed to us at the LOC. In a meeting with the MOC and all state directors of sports, it was resolved that any athlete without accreditation and meal ticket should vacate the hostel so that we can concentrate on the true athletes,” he said.