Christian Aiyegbeni, a former decathlete on Thursday said that sports would thrive in the country only when pressing issues like mandatory structure, accountability, fair play and integrity have been fixed.
He said that in a situation where there was no level playing field for athletes, budding athletes would be the ones to suffer the resultant effect.
Aiyegbeni, who works with Yarmouk Sports Club in Abu Arish, Jizan, in Saudi Arabia as a coach, said on telephone that sports development was beginning to decline in Nigeria.
“Nigerian sports is still lagging, there is still no structure, and no accountability, no probity, no equity, and people are just doing things the way they like.
“To me, Nigerian sports is going through a lot of challenges; and it might take several years to resolve them and it is majorly the youths and junior athletes that will suffer.
“I pity the youths because sports is about time, and they cannot be under-17 or under-21 again, If they don’t make use of their time, the blame-game sets in,’’ he said.
Aiyegbeni, who was awarded a medal and a certificate of honour by the Ministry of Youths and Sports, Jizan Chapter, Saudi Arabia in 2017, said that it was in recognition of his efforts to the development of sports there.
The former decathlete noted that the dwindling state of sports development in Nigeria was a major factor, which contributed to athletes’ switching allegiance to countries that could offer them greener pastures.
“Athletes that represented the country at the Commonwealth Games, I am sure, did it from individual effort and for the love of the sports.
“But, what happens when the love can no longer sustain them?
“I will not be surprised if some of them switch their allegiance to another country in search of better life, because sports is about time and it is now a big business,’’ he said. (NAN)
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