If there is one thing that unites Nigerians, it is sports!
In my experience as an avid follower of many sports, our experience has been largely disappointing!
We have had a few highs like the Atlanta Olympics gold in football, and other underage football competitions!
There has been a disproportionate return on investment in how much money we have spent, and the success enjoyed!
I had cause to photograph the Abuja national stadium, as part of the visuals Nigeria was preparing for our ill-fated bid for the Commonwealth Games some years ago!
While there, I noticed a few very disturbing things! I saw some athletes, after their morning practice session, sitting under a canopy, it was a mama put joint, and they were eating boiled yam, and beans!
I am not a sports nutritionist, but one thing I know, from watching premiership footballers, British, and American, Olympic athletes, is that what they eat, how they eat it, and even what medications they can take for the flu, are highly monitored, and regulated!
After eating, I noticed that these sports men, and women, trekked home! They were too broke to even take a vehicle home! It was shocking!
Before the Olympics in China, the British cyclists trained in special humidity controlled rooms, to replicate the humidity level they would experience in China!
Those who were carrying injuries, slept in special oxygen tents, to hasten the healing process, and it was said that sleeping in those tents also boosted performance!
In the cut-throat world called modern sports, the margin for error are razor thin, and sometimes the difference between gold and silver, could be two seconds, or half an inch!
That is why nations that are really serious about sports, monitor what their athletes weigh, what they eat, drink, smoke, and even when they can make love!
For such nations, their sportspeople are in a sort of permanent Big Brother house! They are always under the microscope!
To achieve this, a lot of money is usually involved! It is not spent on the comfort of officials, for things like official cars, and overseas jamborees, but on the enhancement of the performers, who are the real stars, and assets!
What has been the picture of Nigeria’s sports terrain in the last thirty years?
Leeches, looters, and parasites, feeding fat, while our sports die!
No one currently holding any position of responsibility is there for the good of sports! They see sports as an avenue to make money, and travel the world, at government expense!
The international embarrassment is so bad that people like Amos Adamu, even took our disgrace to the international stage! When we go for major competitions, if our competitors are sixty, our officials are usually two hundred!
People travel with their wives, and or, girlfriends, children, and even friends: all at government expense!
We also got it wrong, in the way we have promoted football over every other sport!
We forget that while it would take twenty two players five matches to win a gold medal, one good swimmer, could win five gold medals in the same tournament!
That is why Michael Phelps, has won ten times more medals than Nigeria at the Olympics!
This evening, I read the agonizing posts of my friends on Facebook, as they watched the massacre that resulted from our playing the USA in basketball! I do not watch such games, the outcome is a foregone conclusion!
I have stopped watching the Nigerian national football team; the Eagles, play because, I am now emotionally bankrupt! I invested so much in them in the past, with no dividends, and I eventually found myself insolvent emotionally!
If our sports must improve, the professional leeches, and freeloaders, who currently have it by the jugular, would need to be flushed out of the system!
The young men, and women, who fly our banner, need to be at the center of all our planning, and investment! They should be cared for, even better than the president is looked after!
If we do this, we will suddenly find that we suddenly now know how to win!
In addition, there needs to be a systematic planning of what sport we want to dominate on the world stage, and how we plan to get there!
In the eighties, and nineties, Americans dominated the sprints! That is now history, because through no fluke, but serious and careful planning, Jamaica has made the sprints her forte!
Nigerians can perform, Christine Oharugo, and Phillips Idowu, are two Nigerians who have dominated the world, by representing Great Britain!
Winning is in our genes too, but requires planning to bring it to the fore!
I leave you with the eternally true words of the Book of Proverbs, Chapter 24, verse one, the Amplified version” Any enterprise is built on wise planning, becomes strong through commonsense, and profits wonderfully, by keeping abrest of the facts!
May God bless Nigeria, our Nigeria, forever!