Nigeria’s participation at this year’s Olympic Games in Brazil exposes some fundamental flaws in sports administration and development in the country despite a whopping annual budget writes Eric Dumo
It took the screams of a few young men around 11:41pm last Sunday for Deji Bello to know that something big was going on. A follower of major events in the country, the 38-year-old businessman still wonders how he missed this particular one. Overwhelmed by the quest to survive in the face of mounting economic and social challenges, the Kwara State-born father of two, like many Nigerians, was too carried away to realise that the Olympic Games, sports biggest spectacle, had begun in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, three days earlier. On the fateful night the screams from a handful of young men at a viewing centre near his house woke him up from bed, Bello had missed Nigeria’s first football match at the competition against Japan – a high scoring encounter which the Under 23 Eagles led by Samson Siasia won 5-4 despite arriving Brazil few hours before kickoff, and was midway into missing the second match against Sweden as well. Nigeria went on to win that game and qualify for the quarterfinals of the tournament.
However, unlike in previous years, much of Nigeria’s participation at the global sporting event this year has almost been greeted with apathy by many across the country. According to sports enthusiast, Jimi Bankole, the lack of interest among the populace might not be unconnected to the several controversies that trailed Team Nigeria in the build up to the opening ceremony of the games last week.