Head of elite events in the federal ministry of youth and sports, Tayo Oreweme on Tuesday joined director of grassroots development, Dr Ademola Are in giving assurances of adequate support to the country’s athletes, while sending forth the second batch of Team Nigeria to this year’s Africa Games in Morocco, megasportsarena.com reports.
While Oreweme assured the athletes, coaches and officials that all their welfare issues, mostly financial matters, will be taken care of without delay before, during and after each of their events, Are enthused that signs are high that the contingent will return home with loads of medals.
The first batch of the contingent left Lagos for Morocco last weekend to prepare grounds, after which the eight-person judo team left Murtala Mohammed Airport at 2.05 am on Tuesday and arrived in Casablanca in the evening, with the male football team also leaving in the evening.
Are, who will serve as Passage For The Games chairman, and Oreweme as general team manager, both saw the judo team off at the airport, where they disclosed that athletes whose events come early at the Games were the first to be airlifted to Morocco.
Speaking on arrival in Morocco, Team Nigeria’s deputy chef de mission, Simeon Ebhojiaye said the first batch of contingent landed in Casablanca on Tuesday morning en route to Rabat, adding that the advance set of eight judokats and officials settled down quickly, while the team’s other batches were being expected on Wednesday.
Team Nigeria will participate in 22 sports, being athletics, badminton, boxing, canoe-kayat, chess, cycling, gymnastics, judo, karate, rowing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, weightlifting, wrestling, basketball, beach volleyball, volleyball, football and handball.
Male and female football will start before the opening ceremony, such that the Flying Eagles and Falconets were billed to fly out on Wednesday in the second batch of Team Nigeria to the 2019 Africa Games, which is scheduled to hold from August 19th to 31st.
A total of 562 people will represent Nigeria at the 12th Games, where the ministry’s permanent secretary, Olusade Adesola said 100 special guests would be part of the country’s contingent of 153 male and 178 female athletes, 58 coaches, 27 medical personnel, 20 secretaries, four secretariat staff and two officials from Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC).
Oreweme admitted that money is a key factor in motivating sportsmen and women to excel, hence her declaration that the ministry will not be found wanting in the need to meet all demands of the team, while also noting that the NOC will also play a key role.
“They are all happy, because we also ensured that they all have a uniform kit to wear as they are travelling. That means they are looking smart together as a team, and that makes them all proud; but we are doping more than just that.
“We know what it means to talk about welfare of athletes, especially in paying camp allowances and bonuses. That is one issue that we have given priority, and I can assure you that all the athletes will get their allowances as at when due.
“We have also made out plans to ensure that each athlete will get a special bonus immediately after they win any medal. Win a medal and you get your reward right after,” Oreweme vowed.
On his part, Are, formerly the ministry’s south-west coordinator, based in Ibadan, said he is happy to see many young athletes in Nigeria’s team to Maroc 2019, and predicted that they will do well in all their events.
Are added: “One of the cardinal points in our focus at the ministry is youth development, looking for hidden talents, which has been reflected in this contingent going to Morocco.
“I am happy that we have many young, up and coming athletes in the contingent, and that tells you we have hope not only for this edition of the Games but also for future competitions as well.”