Jonathan prays the players get international contracts
The Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, on Thursday rewarded the home-based Super Eagles team with N31 million for their exploits at the African Nations Championship, CHAN, in South Africa.
Mr. Jonathan, who hosted the team to a dinner at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, said he was particularly happy with the team’s performance against Morocco.
The Super Eagles finished third at the 16-team competition, after beating Zimbabwe in the third-place match. But the highlight of its performance was when it came from three goals down against the Atlas Lions of Morocco to win 4-3 after extra time in their quarter-final match.
Mr. Jonathan expressed the hope that some of the players would in no distant time land lucrative contracts with international clubs because of their performance at the championship.
He noted that Nigeria’s performance in sports had improved in recent times, saying this was because of the synergy between the executive and legislative arms of government.
“I think we are succeeding in sports because there is a strong link between the executive and the parliament. The current Director-General of the National Sports Commission, NSC, has been a very vibrant parliamentarian. You can now see the synergy, and that when the executive and the parliament are working together this country can reach great heights,” Mr. Jonathan said.
He described the third-place finish by the team as “a golden bronze,” noting that the country was reaping the benefit of its investment in sports.
The chairman of the Nigeria Football Association, NFA, Aminu Maigari, said he was elated to be at the Villa to present another successful team to the President. He assured that 2014 would see more of such activities, with the international competitions lined up for the country’s national teams.
The Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdullahi, who handed over the team to the President, said Mr. Jonathan’s encouragement had been the live wire of the achievements in sports.
“His Excellency told me at the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting that these boys must be celebrated. That we cannot give the impression that we celebrate our sportsmen and women only when they win gold. We should also celebrate their efforts. This is to say that even though we have won bronze, this is a golden bronze,” Mr. Abdullahi said.
Each member of the 23-man squad was given N1 million, while the team’s head coach, Stephen Keshi, got N1.5 million. The three assistant coaches got N1 million each, while the seven backroom staff received N500,000 each.