The Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, on Thursday said that grassroots sports development remained the only route to rebuilding the country’s sports.
Dlalung made the assertion when he congratulated the 13 gymnasts who represented Nigeria at the Regional Africa Gymnastics Championships in South Africa.
A statement by the minister’s Special Adviser on Media, Nneka Ikem Anibeze said in Abuja that he congratulated the team from London where he is attending the 2017 World Athletic Championships.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Team Nigeria to the championship won two gold and nine bronze medals.
“The victory recorded by these young athletes in Gymnastics shows that there’s no short cut to building our sports back to limelight.
“These children who won 11 medals in South Africa are below 18 years. The coach has promised that he is building some of these youngsters for the 2020 Olympics.
“I am sure that by then, these children will be mature and ready for bigger challenges ahead,’’ Dalung said in the statement.
“I congratulate you for this victory and I charge other sports administrators to look towards getting new talents from schools.
“Even here at the World Championships in London, some of our representatives have been around for many years.
“The gymnasts were the future of the sports in Nigeria.’’
The statement said the minister said that it was time for the federations, coaches and other stakeholders to start scouting for athletes from primary and secondary school sports competitions.
It added that the inability of Team Nigeria to register its name on the medals table could not be detached from the failure to prepare for the future.
“Most of our present elite athletes are fading out of the scene. No matter how long we try to mask it, it will be impossible to cheat nature,’’ he said.
According to him, no matter how good an athlete is when he clocks 30, the law of diminishing return will start setting in.
“So in such a situation, a replacement plan should be embarked upon in earnest,’’ the statement quoted Dalung as saying.
He enjoined state directors of sports, federation presidents, zonal coordinators, technical directors of sports federations and development coaches to focus more on unearthing talents who would take over from the present set of athletes. (NAN)