Minister Solomon Dalung scores Nigeria sports high in 2017

The Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, on Thursday said Nigeria has achieved a lot in the area of sports over the last two years ago.

Dalong told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Thursday that the country was able to democratise access to leadership of the various sports federations leading to greater successes in the various sports.

“I assumed office in November 2015 with the mandate to supervise the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes on youth and sports development.

“Towards wealth creation, youth empowerment, physical fitness and wellbeing; achieving excellence in sports, national unity and sustainable development,’’ he said.

Dalong said that the ministry is working to provide sustainable policies and programmes in conjunction with other stakeholders to promote and enhance sports development.

“Appointment into the board of the sporting federations was fully democratised. This singular action informed the emergence of credible leadership for the federations.

“The immediate dividend of which has been the manifest improvement in the performance of the federations in various continental and international tournaments,’’ the minister said.

He said that democratisation of the sports federation led to the country winning eight gold, two silver and one bronze medal in African Wrestling Championship in Marrakesh, Morocco.

“The country also won one silver medal at the World Championship in Paris, France.

“Nigeria’s foremost female wrestler, Odunayo Adeokoroye was elected as an Athletes Representative to the United World Wrestling Federation.

“Daneil Igali, the President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation was also elected a member of the United World Wrestling Federation Technical Committee,’’ Dalong said.

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He said other achievement of Nigeria in 2017 includes; winning 13 gold, four silver and one bronze in the Junior and Youth Weightlifting championships held in Uganda.

“In boxing Nigeria won one silver medal at the Senior Africa Boxing Championships, held in Congo Brazzaville.

“Nigeria participated in the World Powerlifting Championship in Mexico. The championship was mandatory as qualifying competitions for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.

“Out of the 72 countries that participated in the championships, Nigeria was represented by 11 athletes, winning nine medals, consisting four gold, three silver and two bronze,’’ he said.

He gave other achievements as, female hockey winning bronze at the Africa Cup of Nation, and five Nigerian coaches certified as Grade Three Coaches by the International Hockey Federation.

“The women basketball team won FIBA Women Afro Basketball Championship in Mali, while their men counterpart won silver in Tunisia.

“The country also won FIBA AFRICA U-18 Girls in Mali,’’ Dalong said.

The minister also talked about the qualification of the Super Eagles for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

“In football, Nigeria made a lot of progress both on and off the pitch.

“The Super Eagles qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia with a game to spare, an outcome that is sustained even with the application of FIFA penalty on the team for inappropriate fielding of a footballer who already had two yellow cards.

“The NFF in-house committee is investigating the circumstance of the development to make appropriate recommendations to government.

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“Qualification of Super Eagles Team B, known as Home Based Super Eagles for the finals of the 5th African Nations Championship (CHAN) taking place in Morocco.’’

Dalong commended the NFF over the appointment of Amaju Pinnick as the President of AFCON committee responsible for the organisation of the Africa Cup of Nations, as well as member of the Organising Committee of FIFA Competitions among others appointment of Nigerians into CAF and FIFA committees.

The minister also lauded the cordial relationship between NFF and FIFA.

“We have enhanced our relationship with FIFA to the point where the organisation has decided to hold an Executive Football Summit in Nigeria in February.

“It is worthy to note that NFF was fully integrated into FIFA Connect system in December 2017.

“FIFA connect is the centralised portal for the registration of all players and other stakeholders in Nigeria, and will be done by the NFF,’’ Dalong said.

He said that the signing of agreement between the NFF and Super Eagles players would eliminate rancour and distractions around Nigeria’s preparation and participation at the world cup in Russia.

Dalong stressed that preparation for the country’s participation in XXI Commonwealth Games, scheduled for Gold Coast, Australia, in April is in top gear.

“The government has not only approved fund, but actually released it, so right now some of our athletes are in camp at various centres across the country,” he said.

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