It’s less than a month to the commencement of the African Games in Rabat, Morocco and each member federation of the Sports Ministry are already fine tuning their preparations for the biggest sports showpiece in the continent.
While the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) has released the team list of athletes that’ll be donning the colours of the country, there may be some important big names that’ll be absent intentionally.
One of them is double NCAA Champion, Divine Oduduru who aired his displeasure on how Nigerian athletes are treated compared to their football counterparts, while speaking via Skype call with Miyen Akiri, on TVC News Sports Desk.
In case you missed to watch the Live show, here’s the full transcription of the interview.
Miyen: Divine how ready are you for the All African Games in Rabat, Morocco? Psychologically and in terms of moral support from the AFN and Sports Ministry?
Divine: I’ve been training and getting myself ready for the Games but I don’t know, I’m thinking I might not be at the All African Games. All by myself I would say I’m ready but from the Federation and Sports Ministry, I would say they are not ready. Because till now we’ve not heard anything about training grants athletes are going to get. Before athletes get prepared for a meet, there are certain amounts of money athletes are given to prepare but nothing like that has been done. So individually I’m good, but I don’t think Nigeria is ready as a nation to go for the All African Games.
Miyen: Let me get this properly. You saying you’ve not gotten grants from the AFN or the Sports Ministry? Has any of the bodies communicated with you ahead of the Games?
Divine: No one has communicated to me, called or passed any information concerning the Games.
Miyen: if no one has communicated with you, will you be representing Nigeria at the All African Games in Morocco?
Divine: I think I’m not sure I’ll be in Morocco. I’m not sure of that because if we look at it, I’m going to say it’s high time Nigerian athletes stand up for their rights because it’s really so disrespectful the way athletes are being treated in Nigeria, and its high time we all stand and speak. I’m not going to go represent a country that can’t take care of me or give me what I want, because a lot of athletes did a lot to qualify for this Games. We went to different meets to get our times, like we travelled to go qualify for this meet and we can’t just try our best and qualify for this meet and pick yourself to go represent a country, where you’re not being valued or respected.
I believe if it were the footballers that are going for this tournament, we will know the amount of money that’ll be spent or squandered for a Nigerian footballer. But when it comes to the athletes, we’re treated like nobody like we’re not part of the country, we’re not recognised. So as an individual I’m tired of being treated that way. Right from my youth to my senior, I’m not going to represent a country that don’t treat me like I’m a first citizen. So I don’t think I’m going to be at the All African Games.
Miyen: So let’s take a look at your success story in the 2019 calendar year. You’ve put up very impressive performances and then you’ve signed some juicy contracts. What has been the secret in 2019 so far?
Divine: My secret so far in 2019 has been determination, focus but I think my coach and university was giving me the support and everything I need to be who I am today. They gave me the good environment for training, facilities, they made everything available for me. So my university played a lot of role and also Blessing OKagbare, being by my side being able to encourage me telling me I can do it and telling me I can get to the stage I am. Okagbare played more role and with my coach also, in making this season a successful one for me.
Miyen: Finally, how much is the grants for athletes to prepare for a major international competition like the All African Games?
Divine: I think as an athlete, the lowest money you can get from your nation to prepare for the All African Games should be like $29,000 – $30,000 for individual athletes, because we have like different standards given to each athlete.
I’m going to let you know I was at the just concluded US trials, and who took 4th position was given $3000 and that is like running for the National trials. But running in Nigerian trials, you don’t even get anything. So we should be talking about $20,000 to go prepare yourself for a meet because we’re talking about your travelling, accommodation, a lot of things are involved. But with the way things are going, I don’t know because Nigeria is good at taking athletes to a meet and at the end of it they give $5000, and think we should be so excited and grateful for getting that amount. We’ve passed that stage, we heard a lot of money that was being deposited for football when they travel, when they say you get to this stage you get this amount of mount. I think athletes should be treated that way. When you pass the first round of your race, you should be given a certain amount of money. When you get to the final, you should be given a certain amount of money. When you pick a medal, you should be given a Different amount of money, we should be treated equally like footballers. Not that footballers are treated so special and athletes are treated like nobody. This has brought a lot of athletes to poverty that when you see Nigerian athletes, you can’t even recognize that this athlete has once represented Nigeria.
So I’m saying $30,000 for training grants and if the worse comes to the worse, it should be $26,000 – $27,000 because they’re all in different category and different stage given to different athletes.