The new president of the Nigeria Amateur Wrestling Federation (NAWF), Daniel Igali has vowed to hit the ground running, stressing that his immediate plans is to put up a strong foundation that will ensure the transformation of wrestling from the grassroots.
According to him, national championships that would provide opportunity for young talents to showcase their skills would be put in place immediately. He said plans are ready underway to introduce the game to Nigeria Polytechnics as avenues for talents discovery for the national teams.
The Olympics and Commonwealth Games gold medalist in the colours of Canada told WEEKEND SPORTS that the nation’s wrestling governing body has no any constitution guiding the administration of wrestling in Nigeria and has not held any national championship in the last two years. He said athletes that were selected to represent the country at the international competition recently were handpicked based on their past performances and not on the merit of their current performance or fitness.
“The first thing to do is to set up proper frame work for wrestling development. Wrestling has been run anyhow in this country. There is no constitution guiding wrestling and as you know, a constitution is like the bible. So we must have rules and regulations guiding our operation and everyone involved in wrestling.
“We are going to take wrestling to the grassroots. This is the only way we can harness from the potential of talents that abound in all nook and crannies of the country. Every Nigerian is a wrestler even from his or her mother’s womb and we are going to propose that maybe the last week of March every year for Nigeria’s national wrestling championships for every athlete to know when he or she will be selected for the national teams.
The last national championship we had was about two years ago so we have been recycling champions from about 2 years ago for international competitions. “We also intend to take wrestling to our tertiary institution games, particularly NIPOGA Games. The gain of having athletes who are educated cannot be over emphasised,” he said.
The Bayelsa born wrestling who due to maltreatment from Nigerian government opted to compete for his adopted country, Canada, said his administration has mapped out plans to attract corporate sponsors for its programmes, even as he argued that government must fund adequately. “We have mapped out plans to get sponsors for what we all intend to do. But government must also fund properly because all over the world, amateur sports are funded by the government.”