African Pillar of Sports and Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu has asked the Federal Government not to wait until 2024 to begin preparation for the Olympics.
He advised the federal government to begin training now to avoid losing another generation of young players in international market.
Kalu recently made the call when Nigeria’s only decorated male gymnast, who won Gold at the 2019 All African games in Morocco and equally represented Nigeria in the recently concluded Olympic games in Tokyo, Uche Eke, was honored with a three in one party in Maryland, United States of America.
He said people should not just look at the trophy part of each tournament but consider the economic gain or loss that comes with it.
According to the former Abia State Governor who during his tenure helped Enyimba Football Club win African Championship Cup and Super Cup back to back, “We lost a generation of young players in the international market simply because we couldn’t qualify for soccer in the Tokyo Olympics. If we made it at soccer level, some of the players would be exposed to international clubs. They, family and their communities will benefit. The country will also benefit because the capital inflow into our economy will be massive”.
“This is why the Ministry of Sports should increase his pace of hard work. Look at our basketball team, they are strong and formidable but we don’t need them to scatter. They need to continue practicing together and stay in action from now till 2024 Olympics. For us football lovers, it was dark moments for us seeing soccer played without Nigeria team and we don’t need that again”. The Senate Chief Whip said.
He also called on parents to encourage their children to represent Nigeria in international games rather than identifying with other countries.
“We may not have gotten to a stage we all wish our country but it’s not good for parents to discourage their children against representing Nigeria in international games . Allow them to represent Nigeria. Give them the necessary support and in turn you are contributing to the growth of Nigeria and her economy”, he said.
While praising Uche Eke for making Nigeria proud, kalu urged the Minister of Sports to dig deeper both in and outside the country and recruit talented youths .
“We have thousands of them and if we start prepping them now, we will shine to our satisfaction”, he said.