Awka, – Anambra athletes and coaches at the seventh National School Sports Festival (NSSF) on Thursday called on the state government for recognition and reward, following their excellent performance at the meet.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the festival which was hosted by Benue, held from Nov. 6 to Nov. 16, 2014.
NAN also reports that Anambra finished second behind Cross River on the medals table after clinching 82 gold, 103 silver and 119 bronze medals.
Some of the athletes who spoke to NAN in separate interviews in Awka, expressed disappointment that the government was yet to reward them six months after the competition.
Emeka Nwafor, a gold medallist in the 69kg category of the wrestling event, appealed to the government for their recognition and reward.
He said that the athletes put in their best during the competition to achieve “a great feat’’.
“We have been expecting them for long now, it hasn’t been like this, some of us are already losing hope, but my coach has assured me that something will be done.
“This is not the case in previous festivals held in Rivers and Kwara States where athletes were rewarded with N50, 000 for a medal and above.
“I went to Rivers and Kwara, the commissioner promised us that government will pay us something and they did because I won medals.
“Benue was my last competition and I worked hard to win more medals thinking that more reward will come, but nobody has talked to us about it,” the athlete said.
Oluchi Nnaneme, a bronze medallist in tennis, said that as a result of the anticipated reward, she had temporarily stopped playing tennis.
Nnaneme, however, appealed to the government to improve the welfare of athletes.
Benson Udeh, a grassroots coach said that the motivation of athletes was vital to the development sports.
“We have not had it so bad and dry, we find it hard to convince athletes to compete for us; other states are poaching them with sumptuous offers, something must be done to correct this, ” he said.
Speaking in the same vein, Jonny Igboka, a national technical official ,said that there was need to retain athletes from the state by offering them good welfare packages.
Igboka noted that he had lost good athletes to other states because of poor incentives.
“Any athlete who does well should be rewarded, that is a condition for better performance, I hope they will do something to these athletes now because we will need them later,” he said. (NAN)