Saturday, September 17, 2016 6:21 pm
Inadequate funding has clogged Nigeria’s ability to produce world beaters in swimming, the President, Nigeria Aquatics Federation (NAF), Babatunde Fatai-Williams said on Saturday in Lagos.
Fatai-Williams made the assertion when he spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the forthcoming 7th Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Swimming Competition.
The tournament which will feature the junior category for the first time will hold from Sept. 22 to Sept. 25 at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
“The training of world class swimmers is expensive and Nigeria does not have enough facilities to train such world beaters like renowned Michael Phelps of U.S.
“Although Nigeria has the human resources and potential to be world beaters in swimming, inadequate funding remains a clog in its wheel for achieving that.
“We have been hampered by poor funding in the past, a scenario which we have been fighting through all the available means at our disposal.
“We must clearly state that swimming requires heavy investment. To train world beaters, it requires facilities and we cannot solely rely on government for funding,’’ he told NAN.
“The proposal before us now is to engage Public Private Partnership (PPP) to keep some of the facilities for commercial purposes which might be expensive.
“The viable companies that may also help the federation are going through tough times owing to the unfavourable economic circumstances now, so funding swimming remains complicated.’’
Fatai-Williams said that Nigerian swimmers could get it right if given the right atmosphere to operate, including discovering the swimmers at a tender age.
“Swimming involves lots of exercises for the whole calendar year. Swimming practices should be at least five days in a week and for a period of about four years.
“During the Atlanta 1996 Great Britain won only a silver and a bronze, but things changed in 2012, when Britain came second on the swimming medals table.
“We then asked where Britain got it right; the answer is funding. Britain got 75 per cent of its funding from sports lottery which we can also copy from.
“We have made recommendations to the sports minister on how to achieve this. We have made it clear that government cannot do it alone, we need others to come in through this model,’’ he said.
Fatai-William restated that against insinuations that the competition had not produced desired result, those discovered from the past edition had become world renowned swimmers.
“The championship has produced stars for the country and some that represented Nigeria at the Africa Zone 2 competition in Senegal came up tops winning gold and silver respectively.
“Nigeria came second behind the host, Senegal at the championships and this is a testimony that we are not doing badly in the sport in spite of our numerous challenges.
“Swimming is not the responsibility of the federation alone; we also have the state associations that have their roles to play in the development of swimming in Nigeria.
“I can point to some states that are not doing badly in the sport. Swimming requires huge spending such as 24 hours water treatment with power supply for about 18 hours,’’ he said.
As part of effort to develop swimming in Africa in the face of inadequate funding, Fatai-Williams said that the international body for swimming, FINA, had commenced developmental programmes.
“FINA has set up an Olympic size pool in Dakar, Senegal as part of its developmental programmes to support Africa. It also provides coaches to train the swimmers.
“The world body is investing much in training programmes and we also hope to key into it by sending our athletes to Dakar for training.
“There are plans to involve other aquatic sports in our programmes such as water polo and as soon as the Olympic size swimming pool at the National Stadium, Lagos is ready, we will organise championships there.
“Nigeria will also host the next edition of the Zone 2 regional swimming competition,’’ he said. (NAN)