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Recognition for ex-athletes as NSC woos corporate sponsors

Having realized what over dependence on government funding has done to Nigerian sports, the Commission has decided to go in search of prospective sponsors from…

Having realized what over dependence on government funding has done to Nigerian sports, the Commission has decided to go in search of prospective sponsors from the corporate world and former international athletes like Mary Onyali- Omagbemi, Chioma Ajunwa, Paralympian Monday Emoghvare, Tijani Babangida and a host of others are deeply involved.

Addressing the press in Abuja on Friday, the Director General of the National Sports Commission, Chief Patrick Ekeji said the project “producing the next Nigerian Olympic Heroes” is capital intensive and would require active participation of the private sector since it is structured as a Public Private Partnership.

He said it is the desire of the country to post better results at the Olympics but that can only be achieved with sustainable development of athletes who would progress systematically to excel at major international competitions, particularly the 2012 Olympic Games.

“We want to do better, post better results but that can be achieved only if we prepare our athletes very well. To win a medal, you must put in so much in terms of preparations. In this case, we are not talking about local and international training tours”.

“When athletes are sent out in good time for preparations, it makes them realize the importance of what they are going to do for the country. It makes them understand what it takes to be an Olympics champions and what it means to be an Olympian”.

Ekeji said the Commission has deliberately brought on board former athletes who won laurels for the country at the highest level to lead the campaign as recognition and sign of appreciation for what they did in their active days.

He further disclosed that even serving athletes like Super Eagles Captain Kanu Nwankwo are keen on participating actively in the campaign which the Commission hopes to sustain by all means.

“The reason why we are using our heroes past is to make the corporate world in Nigeria to see and know that we have athletes that are heroes”.

Speaking at the occasion, Mary Onyali Omagbemi and Chioma Ajunwa who is the only Nigerian to win individual gold medal in Olympics thanked the sports commission for taking the right step by bringing them into the sponsorship campaign.

Ajunwa said it is heartwarming to note that even as past administrations neglected ex-athletes, changes are unfolding under the present leadership which is enough to motivate serving athletes to do more for their fatherland.

On her part, Onyali-Omagbemi thanked the commission for recognizing the need to use ex-athletes to better the lot of sports in the country.

She said if properly harnessed, the talents that abound in the country will make Nigeria to be the next Mecca of sports in the world.

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