Tokyo 2020: Onyali, NSDFI Move To Help Nigerian Athletes
After the disappointments of the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics Games where Nigeria virtually made up the numbers and came home empty-handed with no medals, there is big hope that there will be a positive change in 2020 at the Tokyo Games.
The optimism of Nigeria doing well in Tokyo is premised on the initiative being championed by double Olympic medalist for Nigeria, Mary Onyali as well as the other members of the Nigeria Sports Development Fund Inc (NSDFI).
Onyali during a courtesy visit to Bounce News office in Lagos earlier in the week shed more light on the NSDFI initiative and how it would help athletes and Nigeria as a whole to make a meaningful impact at the next Olympic Games and going forward.
“There is nowhere in the world where the government can solely fund sports, it is always private sector driven. To us ex-internationals that came together to form the NSDFI and the elite athlete programme, we've been there done that, we have lived in different parts of the world where want we are bringing and domesticating in Nigeria were perfectly practised.” Onyali stated.
Onyali explained that identified talented athletes in the country with bright prospects of winning medals don’t all necessarily need to go to the US as they did in their era when the bulk of athletes representing Nigeria were from abroad.
“The athletes can stay in the schools we see as sports friendly, the same thing being practised in the US will be done but if there is need to still send any of them to the U.S, we will still do that.”
She said those that would be in Nigeria will be all round funded, their education and sports career.
“The 11 of us anchoring this programme are all graduates and our dream is that the athletes we will be working with will be bigger and better even go beyond what we were able to do” Onyali posited
Onyali noted that it will be a big shame for her and the other 10 colleagues that have competed in five consecutive Olympic Games since 1988 till 2004 to sit behind and continue to watch as the country’s sports fortune continue to dwindle.
“The elite athletes' programme is what we are working on now because you know Tokyo 2020 is just two years away. What we are concentrating upon now is to get at least 4.5m Nigerians from the 200 million plus that we are to donate a minimum of N200. With that, we hope to raise N900m which we will give N10M each to each of the 90 athletes we have carefully selected and are sure to be Tokyo-bound. We are investing in those that would get us medals in Tokyo” she stated.
Onyali appealed to those willing to see Nigeria excel at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to make their kind donations to ACCESS BANK: 0015464767, UNION BANK: 0090264868. ACCOUNT NAME: NSDFI ( ELITE ATHLETE DEVELOPMENT ).
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