Former Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Bolaji Abdullahi, has faulted the Nigeria Football Federation on grassroots development, saying instead, the body was focused on getting immediate results.
Abdullahi, who is the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s candidate for Kwara Central Senatorial District in the forthcoming 2023 General Elections, made the observation on Wednesday while delivering a lecture at the 33rd Media Parliament of Nigeria Union of Journalist, Kwara State chapter.
The Media Parliament, which held in Ilorin, is themed ‘Retooling Nigeria for Emerging Challenges.’
“The problem of the NFF is that they are too focused on getting immediate results, rather than strengthening the institutions that will ensure total development of the game from the grassroots,” Abdullahi stated.
Abdullahi, who was sports minister when the Super Eagles won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, said it took the team 19 years before they could achieve the feat, adding that it was a reflection of the total neglect of the development culture in football in Nigeria.
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“We won the Nations Cup in 1994, why did we not win the following edition? Waiting for another 19 years to do so was not good enough. And again, how we won the AFCON in 2013 is a story for another day,” Abdullahi added.
He stated that the National Youth Games, which began when he was minister in 2013, was a deliberate plan to build athletes for the future.
“We critically analysed the National Sports Festival, which accommodates young and older athletes, and discovered that there was the need to create a separate platform for the younger ones to grow, and that was how we came about the National Youth Games, which has no doubt, changed the sports development system in the country.”
Abdullahi added that achieving podium success had to do with total commitment, saying it would take an athlete about 10,000 hours of training, especially doing so from at least seven years of age, to achieve that on the global stage.