FG will position Nigeria among top 20 sporting countries by 2020, says Sports Minister


bolaji_abdullahiMinister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi said on Monday that the Federal Government was working to position Nigeria among the top 20 sporting countries in the world by the year 2020.

The minister said this at the 2013 Ministerial Platform in Abuja.

Abdullahi, however, said that the realisation of the target would depend on the new policy initiatives and administrative reforms going on in the country’s sports sector.

“The first major challenge that we faced in 2012 was how to resolve the various court cases that was standing in the way of our performance especially in football.

“You will recall that we did not qualify for the last African Cup of Nation in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

“We did not qualify for the world cup in Germany and we crashed out of the South Africa (2010) World cup in the first round.

“What we find out was that some of these failings were not caused by our inability to play football but because of all the political issues and in-fighting in the football environment.

“At the time that I became minister of sports, there were 25 court cases against the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) alone, so it’s obvious that the immediate challenge was for us to resolve this.

“And I can tell you that today, we have resolved all the court cases and we can see the results.

“Am also able to tell you that since we have resolved those cases, the Super Eagles of Nigeria have not lost a single game up till today, whether its friendly (or) international competition.

“That is to tell you that most of the time when we are failing it is not always because of what is happening in the field but because of all those issues that are happening around.“

He said the sports sector had thrived in the last two years because of the new policies introduced and the performance indicator set for sports administrators by the National Sports Commission (NSC).

According to Abdullahi, these factors are responsible for the successes recorded by the country at international competitions recently.

He listed some of the successes as the 2013 African Nations Cup trophy won by the Super Eagles and the maiden qualification of the Nigerian male basketball team to the Olympics in 2012.

“I can say largely that even our victory in South Africa can be attributed to the ability of everyone involved in sports administration to hold their house in order and keep everyone working on the same page.

“Our victory in South Africa brings a sharp focus (of) what the Nigerian league can contribute to the National team.“

He also said that Nigeria set three world records in the power-lifting event at the London 2012 Paralympics Games and emerged overall winner of the All-Africa Senior Athletics Championship in 2012 in Benin Republic.

The minister said the country did well by winning the Gold and Silver medal at the 2012 World Chess Olympiad in Turkey, and also winning the Senior Africa Weightlifting championship in Kenya.

He also said that the country’s junior football teams, the Flying Eagles and Golden Eaglets had done the country proud by qualifying for the U-20 and U-17 World Championships respectively.

The Under-17 championship is scheduled to begin in the United Arab Emirate on Oct. 17, while the Under-20 begins in Turkey on June 21.




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