By Olanrewaju Akojede
Lagos – The Secretary-General, Nigeria Olympic Committee, Tunde Popoola, says poor foundation of athletes accounts for some of the country’s poor showing both in local and international championships.
Popoola made the assertion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Lagos.
He said that many of the present national coaches were not up to date in the new techniques of their sports; hence, they were unable to pass necessary skills to their athletes.
“Many of our coaches are outdated, they are out of tune with the recent techniques in sports; they need refresher courses to update themselves on the new trends in sports.
“Once a coach does not have the proper training and he is assigned to teach athletes, what will he teach?
“It is better we look into the nation’s coaching sector to know where the problem is and start the re-alignment from the basics; I mean the foundation.
“We should also start to appraise our performance from the foundation because it might be difficult to correct later,’’ he said.
The NOC scribe said that many things had gone wrong in the course of athletes having bad foundation, especially when such outdated skills had denied them medals in the international competitions.
“We have had bad times as a result of our athletes not being in tune with current techniques. We need coaches that are updated to teach the right things.
“If medals will not continue to elude us, we must update our coaches. I have said that there are two types of coaches, the quack ones (Coachitos) and the professional ones.
“It is better for those “coachitos’’ to go to the Nigeria Institute of Sports to get updated and get a certificate, or we will need an association that regulates coaching in Nigeria.
“Early beginning is the key; it is not about training on the pitch but teaching the appropriate skills. The skills should be taught at the beginning,’’ he said.
Popoola said that with the abundance of human resources and the population advantage of Nigeria, the country should be a force to reckon with in sports globally.
“With our population strength, we should be world leaders in all sports. And that brings to mind the aspect of training too.
“For instance, we cannot just go to the creeks or riverine areas where I come from to gather swimmers on the pretence that they are good swimmers. That will not work.
“They need training to compete with international swimmers. Because they are familiar with the water does not translate to knowing how to swim in the pool or else they will be roundly beaten.
“Swimming has its own techniques and rules it follows and nobody can just jump inside the water saying he lives in waters. We need coaches to train them,’’ he said.
Popoola also canvassed that sports education should be made compulsory in schools as a means of grassroots development of sports.
“Education is not complete without play and that play is sports. We all know that youths are energetic and we should allow them do sports to explore their energy.
“What we find today is that they don’t allow students to have extracurricular activities. Government is not helping too, in those days we had Physical Health Education (PHE) as a compulsory subject in school.
“Government needs to bring back the old days and orientate our children; nationalistic stake should be their focus because they all feel you have to leave the country to make it well.
“Let us make sports open to the youth. Competitions should be created for sports. Most schools should have sport facilities; at least there must be one playing ground,’’ he said.