Canoeing: Stakeholders harp on grassroots development of sport in Nigeria

Canoeing: Stakeholders harp on grassroots development of sport in Nigeria
August 02 09:28 2023 Print This Article

Rowing, Canoeing and Sailing enthusiasts have advocated more development of the sport at the grassroots in the country.

A cross section of the enthusiasts who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the end of the 1st African Admiral Porbeni Canoe Race championships in Abuja, commended the organisers of the event.

The championships also served as an Olympics pre-qualifier event, ahead of the main qualifying tournament in November.

No fewer than 100 athletes from five African countries – Ghana, Senegal, Sao Tome and Principe, Togo and host Nigeria – took part in the event which held at the Jabi Boat Club, Abuja.

They said there was a need to continue to organise more of such events in other parts of the country, to ensure the sport’s development at the grassroots.

President, International Canoe Federation (ICF) Thomas Konietzko expressed satisfaction at the quality of the event, adding that he was impressed with the number of talents available in the country.

“I think we have so many talented athletes here in Nigeria and this competition has proven that African organisers are able to organise Canoe competitions on a very professional level.

“We have to develop sports in Africa and as a first important step, we need more regional competitions here.

“The lack of equipment is also another important issue and we have had meaningful discussions with the Federation on how we can help to engage more kids in the sport.

“With time, more African athletes will pick interest in the sport and even go ahead to qualify and compete for medals at the Olympic games,” he said.

Joao Afonso, 1st Vice President of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) said there was a need to create opportunities to discover and develop talents in the sport.

Afonso noted that more than 60 per cent of the African population were youths, adding that ANOCA was working hard to create conditions for them to practise and keep themselves busy with the sport.

“We have to change our African mentality because here we believe that the only sport existing is football.

“So, there is a need to change the narrative.

“We have a total of 42 sports at the Olympics, of which football is just one out of so many others,” he said.

Habu Gumel, President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) said the federation had the capacity to develop the sport at the grassroots, especially with the vast waterways and talents that abound in the country.

“It is very important to develop the sport at the grassroots and we have a lot of waterways and talents scattered everywhere in the country.

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