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Author Name: tony are
Number of articles: 32
I am often amazed by how most Nigerians do not get issue at stake in any political situations or current... (0) Comment

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Mercenary Runners
Author: tony are | September 02, 2008

One thing Nigerians are good at is blaming somebody for their woes. This is common in every aspect of Nigerians life. This is why Nigeria got disproportional number of churches and mosque more than schools. Also, traditional healers in secret shrines, they are specialised in apportioning peopleâs faults to someone else, of course, money is involved. This is shown in current inactive government blaming everything on previous one. The Olympic have alighted the sprinters for hire that is prevailing among Africans. There is increasing number of Africans that are changing their nationalities in order to run for some European countries. Their main excuse is their countries were not taking care of their welfare. This is becoming more among Nigerian sport men and women. We have to distinguish between African born and bred in Europe and to Africans born and raised in Africa. If you were born and raised in another country, you normally have a dual loyalty or nationality inside you. Naturally, you tend to run for the country you were born or raised. I do not think anyone can be faulted for that. When a man or women have no relationship to a country and go in for sole purpose of representing it for a particular sport; then it make that person a sport mercenary. Most of the major sports events like Olympic are done for pride and nationality. This is why the national flag and anthem are hoisted and play respectively when an athlete wins the gold. It is not about money, it is about pride and doing things for your people. Taking a critical look at the welfare that had been the major excuse by the mercenary sport men and women. At least, from Nigeria perceptive, it well known that we got the most useless, inept and corrupt sport administration in the world. Most of them lobbied to be appointed to make money. Nigeria official Olympic delegations are usually larger than athletes in number. Instead of the delegate attending the opening ceremony and go back home, they stay put and remain there till the tournament finishes. Jamaica, a country with the population of Ogun state can produce Olympic gold winners than Nigeria, the country even won more medals than Nigeria. The money meant for athletes are spent on official allowances, shopping and accommodation. It is not just Olympic, if we look at our football, is a big joke. A country of 150m people, definitely, football is sitting on a big pot of money if properly administered. With the big population, it not an over estimation to expect 500,000 people to watch football weekly paying N100 each. You can imagine how much VAT that can generate for the government. The international players have to lobby to get their travelling money paid. Thus, it is no news to blame personal and selfish ambition on African sport officials. Any sport men and women know what to expect from them. If any sport man thinks about sport administrators in Nigeria, he will have nothing to do with the country. However, sport participation is not personal nor is it all about money alone. The feelings run dipper than that. If for example someone come from Isoko, Nigeria, running for Nigeria means you are running for Isoko. Even if people of Isoko are been treated badly, it is the event like Olympic that highlight social and political injustice. After you finished your career, if Nigeria forgets about you, Isoko people will not. The country may just be a symbol. If you take Great Britain as an example, if you are Scottish, you have to run under Great Britain. It is not about England or money, is about representing Scotland. This was shown by a lady called Freeman who was mixed aborigine race. She ran for Australia with big national pride despite injustice endured by aborigine people. She received massive support from the whole country during her race. Like they say, Legend are born not make. I can recall a lot of Nigeria past sport heroes, some like Thunder Balogun, Hogan Bassey etc. I never saw them perform but I read about them and remembered their name. Odegbami, the legendary Okocha, Okala, Chrstian Chukwu etc, we remember them because they represented all of us from Nigeria. For the mercenaries, how many people in their host countries will remember them after they finish their careers. How many polish people will remember Osadabe or potugese remembering Obiekwelu. Some Nigerians even run for Spain! A country that her football fans âapeâ all black players that play for various clubs in there. They even ape Hamilton, English mixed race motor driver. How would these Nigerians be remembered, the baboon that run for Spain? Who remember the Kenyan that used to run for Denmark? Some sports like weightlifting, money or state sponsorship is very important. Apart from becoming American wrestling, bodyguard or bouncer, there is very little thing you can do after it. These sports are not highly commercialized due to their nature. You have to constantly represent your country and be paid. If this is not possible or you are been abandoned, I could understand an athlete jumping over to another country if he is so keen about the sport. Swimming, gymnastic etc fall the same category. Those sport need generous state sponsorship even after you retire from the sport. However, some sports are highly commercialized such as football, sprinting, boxing etc. Apart from national pride, personal motivation should be behind it as well. In these sports, it is not only about your country paying you that matter, participation is the key as it expose the athlete to other possibilities if he or she shows potential or excel. It will open the door for further financial interest. Obiekwelu would still earn the same money yearly if he either runs for Portugal or Nigeria. This is because, excelling in his sporting field will lead to invitation to participate in various athletic tournaments and will receive a lot of sponsorships. The only different now is him running in European tournament not the African one. It was really idiotic for him to say he was abandoned when he was injured. As a professional athlete, he should have had sport insurance to protect his earning against injury. This is nothing to do with the country, you only get pay if you are representing. This is done in all countries, government is not a charity shop. A good professional sport man would have insured himself against loss of earning due to injury. All footballers have it, so as tennis players etc. If you are tennis player, if you do not play in any tournament in a year, you will earn nothing. When these sport men represented their country in highly commercialised sports, they are putting themselves up for financial gains. Having international next to your profile in football will earn you extra money. A good example is Shitu, who was playing in lower leg in England, it was his international experience that earned him more money by been bought by premiership teams. Egbunike , Onyali and co, earned money in the sport because they represent Nigeria (they were based in USA) Boxing is the same, after Olympic, a boxer can be exposed to more lucrative deal from promoters. We have our own successful story like Okorodudu and in USA, there were countless number of Olympic boxers becoming successful professional. Mohammed Ali is a good example, even though he was representing a country that was treating him as second class citizen. How I wish these confused Africans can emulate him. Representing your country in sport is not about money or making lame excuses. It is not about corrupted official neither. We all know the official are corrupt, it is what you want to do for your own people so that you can be remembered not by the government but by your people. There are sport legends, some of which we were not alive when they were representing us, we remember them because we can associate with them. Who will remember these sport men in their adopted countries that have history of discrimination against the colour of their skin. There was this story about east London, about 500+ years ago, there used to be black workers in the dockland. It was known they got married and bred out (due to their children marrying white person till the race fade out). 500+ years after, nobody in east London who are white admitted to have black in their family line, disregarding historical evidence. I sincerely hope this will not become our African mercenaries, where their success will be denied.

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