2021: Stakeholders hopeful of better sports year

Top Nigerian athletes, coaches and administrators are hopeful of a better 2021 in sports in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The year 2020 would largely be remembered for the wrong reasons due to the havoc COVID-19 wreaked on the globe – including sports.

Nigeria Basketball Federation vice president, Babatunde Ogunade, is optimistic the NBBF will be able to source funds for a historic participation at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, where the country will present two teams, the first by an African nation.

“It has been a tough year (2020) no doubt, but we are hopeful of a better 2021 in terms of funding,” Ogunade told newsmen.

“2021 is going to be a busy year for the federation because of the Olympics, where D’Tigers and D’Tigress will take part in,  and don’t forget that both teams will take part at the AfroBasket championships.”

Director-General of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Siminialayi Pepple, said they hope to put the COVID-19 pandemic and the leadership crisis that rocked the federation behind by winning two gold medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

“We are looking forward to a better 2021, we’ve drawn out our programme for the year and we are hoping that we will have the opportunity to do what is needed in the interest of the athletes,” People stated.

“In 2021, we are going to be involved in more training, thank God COVID-19 has given us the chance to do many things virtually. Our coaches and administrators need a lot of enlightenment, so, we are set to do all of these and more in 2021, we are going to be organising seminars and lectures. We are going to embark on athletes’ education, upgrading of our coaches and officials.

“We are also gunning for two gold medals at the Olympics. As it is now, a lot of things have changed, but what has affected us has affected other nations as well, so we will do the very best we can under the circumstances we find ourselves not to disgrace Nigeria.”

Wrestling coach, Purity Akuh, said, “2020 was all about COVID-19, but in 2021, we hope to overcome this.

“I pray the second wave of the pandemic doesn’t affect sports. 2021 is a year we are going to break records in wrestling by winning an Olympic medal.

“We are already in camp preparing for the Olympics. We already have one wrestler that has qualified – Odunayo Adekuoroye – and we have 10 more that we are training and hoping they will qualify too.”

Chess coach, Odion Aikhoje, believes lack of coordination was the bane of the federation in 2020, but is hopeful the sport will better in 2021 with the right people in the office.

“Challenges in the chess federation have been lack of activities and there’s no coordination,” he said.

“The federation should be composed of officials with a vision and long term plan for chess.