By Goodluck Ikiebe
The Federal Government has called on the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) to uphold professionalism and ensure strict adherence to the rules governing the selection of athletes that will represent the country at the 2023 World Championships billed for Budapest, Hungary.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Sports and Youth Development, Alhaji Ismaila Abubakar, made the call on Thursday as the national trials continue in Benin City, the Edo State Capital.
The Permanent Secretary, who expressed optimism that with the calibre of Members that form the AFN Board, Nigeria is sure to have the best athletes to compete at the World Championships.
He also advised the athletes to put in their best at the trials, assuring that the Ministry is committed to providing equal opportunity for all athletes, both local and foreign, to compete at the trials with a view to having the best athletes to represent Nigeria at the Competition.
Alhaji Ismaila stated further that the Ministry will continue to ensure full implementation of the policies and initiatives put in place by the Federal Government with a view to providing opportunities for the youth to develop their sporting talents in line with the policy thrust of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led Administration.
Meanwhile, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), says it will shut the doors to the 2023 World Championships billed for Budapest, Hungary, against any foreign-based athlete, who fails to show up for the national trials in Benin City, Edo State.
AFN Secretary General, Rita Mosindi, stated that any foreign-based athlete, who fails to show up for the national trials should consider him or herself out of the trip to Budapest.
“AFN has a policy in the selection of athletes for major competitions, including the World Championships. If you don’t come for the national trials, you won’t go to Budapest. The only condition for the AFN to consider such an athlete for the World Championship is, if he or she tenders a genuine case of ill-health. In that case, our medical team has to be notified, and the board has to take a decision on it. For now, no athlete has informed me of his or her absence from the national trials. We have only heard rumours that some athletes would not be here for the national trials, but the rules are clear. If you don’t come, forget the ticket,” she explained.
AFN’s hard stand came just as 12 USA based athletes trained at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City, on Monday in preparation for the event, which the country will use to select its flag bearers to the World Championships.
AFN Technical Director, Samuel Onikeku, also stated that it is the AFN that will register athletes for the World Championships, thus calling on them to ensure participation at the trials.