BY CHINWE EDOGA.
The crowded international sports calendar and the attendant huge cost involved have compelled the Nigerian sports minister, Solomon Dalung to make a passionate plea to the national assembly to consider sufficient fund in the 2018 budgets.
The qualification of the Super Eagles to the most important single sport event in the world, the World Cup means the country must appropriate enough fund for a good outing for the team.
Besides, the World Cup year always coincide with the Commonwealth Games which Nigeria also partake in. The Commonwealth Games is multi-discipline that excludes mainly team sports like football to bring the cost down a little.
The Commonwealth Games hold in Gold Coast, Queensland in Australia from April 4 to 15, barely eight weeks to Nigeria’s participation at the Russia 2018 World Cup.
Apart from the FIFA World Cup in Russia and the Commonwealth Games in Australia, Nigeria will also feature in the Basketball (FIBA) World Cup for women in Spain following the splendid performance early this year by the women’s national team, D’Tigress.
In a press release from the office of the Nigerian sports minister, Solomon Dalung remarks: “We all know that the recent success of the Super Eagles was as a result of direct support from President Mohammadu Buhari who had to personally intervene at critical times during the qualification campaigns.”
He further stressed that the process of running to the President at every slightest opportunity for financial intervention for sports may be difficult to sustain at the long run considering the numerous international sporting events lined up for 2018.
In proffering solutions, the minister announced that a fund raiser dinner will soon be held.
“A stakeholders’ dinner which will also include the National Assembly, state governments and all other concerned sports stakeholders will be organized soon to chart a new course of action for our participation at the World Cup.”
With many stakeholders calling for early World Cup preparations for the global event, Dalung said that it may be an impossible task if something urgent is not done to raise the needed funds.
“In fact, let’s not be deceived. There was no budgetary allocation for the Super Eagles preparation for the 2018 World Cup in the 2017 budget.”
He tasked the House Committee to key into the vision of the ministry of seeing a well prepared Super Eagles take on the world as a major player in Africa and world football.
“We are not going as mere participants but as contenders with a new vision, culture and tradition of modern soccer and a determination to make an impact at the World Cup.
“With sports being a tool for effective service delivery which is capital intensive, it is imperative to have sufficient funds available to support every stage of the preparation in other to make a successful impact in Russia.
“By this token, I’m passionately appealing to National Assembly to support our participation by appropriating sufficient funds to sports in the budget next year and thereafter.”
Speaking further, the Minister said that without sufficient funding, all efforts to make an impact at the global stage in 2018 may be a mission impossible.
“The significance of sports in National development cannot be over emphasized; therefore, all stakeholders including state governments must rise to this clarion call of repositioning sports for the benefit of the youths.
“We are committed and we shall do everything possible to promote the image and integrity of Nigeria,” Dalung concluded.