LAGOS – Elias Gora, former Vice President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), on Friday said that Blessing
Okagabre recent outburst about the neglect of grassroots development was not far from the truth.
Gora a former Secretary General of the Nigeria Olympic Committee told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that an athlete of Okagbare’s calibre should be taken seriously when she raises an important sports development.
Okagabre c accused the AFN of entering Nigerian foreign-based athletes for major international competitions.
She alleged that federation was not paying enough attention to grassroots developmental programmes.
It would be recalled that Nigerian team won the gold medal at the just concluded IAAF championships in 4 x 200 relay.
Okagbare said the team did well in the competition based on individual athletes’ efforts and that credit should not be given to AFN.
She also pointed out that the AFN’s reliance on foreign-based athletes would retard the development of grassroots athletes in the country.
Gora told NAN that for Okagbare to talk publicly about such a sensitive issue showed that she was passionate about the development of grassroots athletes.
“She has everything going for her as an elite athlete, she has seen it all.
“She has nothing to lose if she stays silent, it does not affect her in any way.
“It shows that she is passionate about the development of grassroots in this country, not just athletics but sports in general.
“The earlier they listen to her the better, and they should consider themselves lucky to have an athlete like her.
“ Lack of attention to grassroots has been the hindrance to our development, I agree with her 100 per cent, ” Gora said.
He urged the AFN to look inwards, and develop local athletes.
Meanwhile, AFN has queried to Okagbare for her remark that the federation neglected home-based athletes while promoting the fortune of their foreign based counterparts.
The AFN Technical Director, Omatseye Nesiama said Okagbare remark was baseless and aimed at tarnishing the image of the federation.
He said the athlete must be held accountable for her comments.
“I have directed that the AFN Secretary General issues her a query immediately.” he said
Nesiama said while the AFN would accept constructive criticisms from stakeholders, “and indeed athletes, it shall not condone iindiscipline and baseless comments while playing to the gallery.’’
He, debunked allegations made by Okagbare that the athletes selected the team that won the 4x200m women category in Bahamas
IAAF/BTC World Relays.
“It is also very shameful for Blessing to state that they (girls) selected the team. She lied on that. One may ask how they did that,’’ (NAN)
you may also like: