#BounceRewind2018: Many Goals But No Victory For Sports In Nigeria
Scoring two, three or even five goals in a football match does not guarantee you victory and that perhaps best explains how Nigeria fared in 2018 as far as sports is concerned.
Although there were several high points in the course of the year, when compared to the potentials and resources being sunk into sports, it would be glaring that the country is only scratching the surface.
The sporting moments of 2018 climaxed at the World Cup in Russia.
The missed chances and failure to hold to victory on would remain in the hearts of millions if not billions of people around the world for a lifetime.
But there was more.
Bounce Sports looks at the key moments in Nigeria sports in 2018.
African Wrestling Championships
Since the intervention of Olympic Gold medalist, Daniel Igali in Nigeria’s wrestling, the sport has been growing in leaps and bounds.
2018 was quite remarkable as the 5th African Wrestling Championship; the biggest international wrestling event to be ever hosted in Nigeria was staged in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
At the end of the five-day competition, Nigeria emerged the overall champions, coming first in four major categories of the championship which had 90 gold medals at stake.
The country participated at the 2018 edition in PyeongChang, South Korea from 9–25 February 2018.
The history-making Nigeria delegation consisted of four women: bobsledders - Seun Adigun, Akuoma Omeoga, Ngozi Onwumere, and skeleton racer Simidele Adeagbo.
The quartet made history as the first African women to compete in Bobsled and Skeleton events in a competition that is a rare feature on Nigeria’s sporting calendar.
Nigeria competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia from April 4 to 15.
With a 90-member contingent, Team Nigeria finished in the ninth position, winning 24 medals comprising of 9 gold, 9 silver, and 6 bronze.
It was a step below the 11 gold, 11 silver, and 14 bronze medals won at the 2014 Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
The para-athletes accounted for five of the top podium placements while wrestling had three and athletics one
Russia 2018 World Cup
Having qualified in style not with permutations and calculators as it had usually been the case, many were hoping to see Nigeria have a spectacular outing at the Russia 2018 World Cup.
It turned out not to be so as the Super Eagles were booted out of the tournament at the group stage, losing to Croatia and Argentina.
It wasn’t all gloomy as the team made some gains off the pitch particularly in jersey sales.
The Nike designed outfit was the most sought after in the build-up to Russia 2018.
Senior Africa Athletics championships
For 29 years, Nigeria was snubbed from hosting this championship after it hosted this flagship event in Lagos in 1989.
Asaba, however, got the nod to host the 21st edition and it was fanfare in Delta State between August 1 to 5 2018.
Kenya emerged victorious at the end winning 19 medals made up of 11 gold, six silver and two bronze medals.
The East Africans, who hosted and won the 19th edition in 2014, beat defending champions, South Africa and host, Nigeria, to the second and third positions respectively.
2018 African Women Cup of Nations
The Super Falcons extended their supremacy on the African continent by defeating South Africa on penalties to win the 2018 edition for the third consecutive time in Ghana.
With the victory, the Falcons had been to the finals 9 of 11 editions and have not lost in the finals. They will represent Africa at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
U-20 Women’s World Cup
The age grade FIFA organised tourney for women took place in France from 5–24 August 2018 and won by Japan.
The Christopher Danjuma led team made it to the quarterfinals losing 2-1 to Spain.
However, there were reports claiming that players and official of the team were not paid their entitlements before and during the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup finals in France.
19th National Sports Festival
Against all odds, the Festival, dubbed ‘Nigeria Olympics’ was staged in Abuja from December 6 -16, 2018 after a 6-year hiatus.
It was last staged in Lagos in 2012.
Delta State finished top of the table with an unprecedented 342 medals, relegating the likes of Rivers, Edo and Lagos State to the second, third and fourth position respectively.
Perhaps due to the hurried arrangements, the 19th National Sports Festival ranked among the worst organized ever.
Edo State has been given the hosting right for the next edition and expectations are that they would get it right.
Away from events and championships, the year 2018 was also dotted with so many other happenings that rocked the sporting world.
One of such was the shock retirement of Victor Moses from international football just after the World Cup.
The re-election of Amaju Pinnick as NFF boss was also remarkable but whether it is a step in the right direction, time would tell.
Also, the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) for the first time in history ended without teams playing all 38 games scheduled for the calendar year.
The League Management Committee (LMC) explained they had to produce a winner in order to present a representative on time to CAF for the Champions League and the Confederation Cup competitions.
That decision is still having rippling effects as the LMC and NNL are still at loggerheads on how next season will be.
Former football star, John Fashanu knocked the league management team in the country for failing to do their job accordingly.
“With Nigerian league, I am disappointed that our league is not yet professional. When you hear the word professional, it means players salaries should be paid as at when due, players parked themselves in a bus and travel for about 20 hours and we called that a professional league?
“Anyway, I don’t want to get myself into problem criticizing them because I believe as an ex-footballer I can contribute my own quota, he stated.
Former Super Eagles Coach, Siasia who has handled Heartland in the past also bore his mind while speaking to newsmen.
He said: “It is pathetic to see what is going on in the Nigerian league. The league did not end and they declare a winner. Is that how it is done in the other parts of the world?
“Those that run Nigerian leagues should sit and ask questions.
“If they don’t know what to do they should learn and do a better job. And they still want to promote four teams without relegating any team. I am not criticising them but as ex-footballer, we need to let them know when things are not going well".
While the gains of 2018 are worth celebrating, sports administrators need to be more deliberate in 2019 to achieve meaningful success.
The days when trial and error still gives result is fast evaporating and only those that plan strategically have a chance in the evolving world of sports.
Don’t forget to please share this story with your friends and family..