The fortunes of athletics in the south-west zone of Nigeria are set for a change for the better following the resolve for a revival by the athletics association in the region.
The South-West Athletics Association (SWAA) at the weekend held a series of meetings to fine-tune the blueprint it currently has in place to kick start the revival of athletics in the region.
Lagos Athletics Association Chairman, Solomon Alao, who is the new representative of the zone on the board of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, is championing this new revolution which some feel is long overdue.
Mr Alao said the time to discover and nurture new world-beaters in the mould of Falilat Ogunkoya, Yusuf Alli and the likes who all grew into world prominence from the region is now.
“Rather than dwelling on the past failures and playing the blame game, we are more interested and committed to finding solutions and results,” Mr Alao told reporters in Lagos.
“Because we have a mandate from the Sports Minister and by extension, the AFN President, the athletics family in the South West agreed to come together to put together a blueprint for the promotion, advancement, development and rebuilding of athletics in our region” he added.
The Lagos State Athletics boss rightly noted that in times past, the South-west region has always been at the forefront of discovering and producing top athletes for the country but other regions seem to have now taken the lead now.
“Our aim is to take our rightful place. Even beyond what is the case locally, just by sheer geographical space and population, the South West is bigger than the Bahamas, bigger than Jamaica and all those West Indies countries making waves in athletics so why can’t we be doing the same,” Mr Alao wondered.
Isaac Ogada, chairman of Oyo State Athletics Association, who is also the secretary of SWAA, said the missing link for the region in the past years has been getting a purposeful leader to drive the process and that is now solved with Mr Alao in place.
Mr Ogada hinted that a lot of concentration will be on grassroots development and reengineering school sports which accounted for the discovery of the likes of Ogunkoya, Alli and others.
“This is a new dawn for athletics in the South-West. We are lucky to have someone with a burning desire in the person of Dr Alao to ensure that this is properly done and I want to assure you, we are all ready to give him the necessary support” The Oyo state athletic boss promised.
Both Yussuf Alli who is the Vice President of Lagos Athletics Association and Falilat Ogunkoya who is Chairperson for the South-West Athletics Association have assured of helping with their expertise in helping to discover new talents from the region.
Representatives from across the six south-west states were all part of the deliberations in Lagos.
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