Rio Commitment: Nigerian Olympic Teams Continue without Govt Support

The Olympic soccer team preparing for the Rio Games say they will not be discouraged by the comments of Sports Minister Solomon Dalung even as they expressed their disappointment. 

Siasia-Dalung and coach Samson Siasia-led teams are in Atlanta preparing for the Games with a private sponsor shouldering their bills for only ten days that will run out next week. 

There were fears that the team would be stranded if the Federal Government did not respond to them. Dalung was reported to have said that he was not aware that the Nigerian team was in Atlanta. 
Images of Brazil Olympics 2016 

His comment shocked the team but the players and officials have said that what mattered to them was their spirit to put up a good performance in Rio and not the “minister’s comment.” 

Two of them said “We will be in Rio to compete for Nigeria and we will not be discouraged by what is going on.” Siasia, afraid that Nigerian authorities might disappoint them and scuttle their preparation had gone ahead to seek other sponsors who could pay their bills in the later part of their camping. 

Their pitiful condition compelled him to shoulder other roles other than coaching the team only. “The minister said that he was not aware of our camping here in Atlanta. 

He said he didn’t know we are in the US,” one of the team officials said during the week, confirming media reports in Nigeria that the minister said that he was not aware of the preparation camp of the Olympic soccer team. 

A top football source said the Nigeria Football Federation submitted their Olympic Games preparation programme about two months ago and that even one top member of the sports ministry “made a case for the inclusion of one person in the team.” 

“We’ll see what we can do to hang in here and complete our training,” one official said, implying that Siasia must have succeeded in securing further sponsorship. “We are also exploring the possibility of sending them some money if we succeed in sourcing it,” one football federation official said last night. 

The cash crunch in the country following the poor state of the economy has subjected athletes to severe hardship and made preparation for the Olympics Nigeria’s worse in recent years. “We have never had it so bad,” veteran athletics coach Seigha Porbeni said yesterday. 

Lawmakers early this week asked the Federal Government to release money for Olympic preparation. The Games begin next month and such last minute release of funds has never helped Nigeria as the funds usually end up in the pockets of sports officials as their use for preparation programmes would have been late. 

Part of the money could help in rescuing teams in camps like the soccer team in Atlanta and the Basketball team in Los Angeles but late release of funds has never yielded results in terms of fair performance. Unfortunately, this has remained the Nigerian way for years. 

The Buhari government has not changed the way of our sports particularly with funding and management of the industry. - Online Sources 

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