Nigeria: NFF seeks immediate results, not development – Ex-Minister of Sports

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The former sports minister said there was a need to create a separate platform for young athletes to be discovered.

Former Youth and Sports Development Minister Bolaji Abdullahi says the problem for the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is to get immediate results and not the development of the game.

Abdullahi, who is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for Kwara Central Senatorial District for the 2023 general election, made the statement in Ilorin on Wednesday.

He addressed the 33rd Media Parliament of the Union of Nigeria Journalists (NUJ), Kwara Council, held at the NUJ Press Centre, Ilorin.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Media Parliament was themed “Re-equipping Nigeria for Emerging Challenges”.

According to him, the problem with the NFF is that it focuses too much on getting immediate results, rather than building the institutions that will ensure the total development of the game from the grassroots.

Abdullahi, who was sports minister when the Super Eagles won the 2013 Nations Cup, 19 years after doing the same, said the fact it took the nation so long to win it again was the a reflection of a total neglect of football development in Nigeria.

“We won the Nations Cup in 1994 and why didn’t we win the next edition? Waiting another 19 years to do it was not enough. And again, how we won the AFCON in 2013 is a story for another day,” he said.

The former minister, who was the mastermind behind the introduction of the youth development system, labeled National Youth Games in 2013, also said the Games were a deliberate plan to develop athletes for the future, a platform that is delivering positive results today.

“We critically analyzed the National Sports Festival, which hosts young and older athletes, and found that there was a need to create a separate platform for the younger ones to grow up, and that’s how we created the National Youth Games, which undoubtedly changed the system of sports development in the country,” Abdullahi said.

He said success on the podium is tied to total commitment and that it would take around 10,000 hours of training for an athlete, especially starting at age seven.

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