By Femi Atolagbe
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare has directed coaches of long-distance races to come up with proposals for renovating the training camps in Pankshin, Plateau state and Mambila, Taraba state to acceptable standards.
The Minister, who gave the directive at a virtual meeting with the coaches, the private sector and other stakeholders, also tasked them to initiate the revival of long-distance races.
The coaches were also mandated to scout for talents, camp current runners and develop training programmes. They are also to audit the training camps in Mambila and Pankshin to ascertain the extent of renovation needed to bring it up to the desired standard.
The Minister said, “following from this meeting, you will put forward a proposal as a team. That proposal should contain what is needed to bring back the two camps. I am sure we can conduct an audit; I am sure some of you know what is needed to bring back Pankshin and Mambila. Once we see that plan, we can now slice that plan up into two or three stages, what is needed in the short run to activate it quickly to start developing these talents, with the Olympics in view.
“In that proposal we need to also have your idea about the coaches, we need to have your idea about the training templates, as much as possible, so that proposal should determine and put forward what is needed. You are the expert in this area, and I am sure that you can give us a proposal that is tight but also allows us to do something in the short term and then go ahead to do the medium term and then the long term.
“The resources we have are not unlimited, they are limited. But the ministry will leverage on what it can get and as we prepare the 2021 budget, I will make sure that long distance gets a very close attention,” he promised.
In what is the first consultations in this direction, Professor Ezra Gunen, Tony Osheku, Stephen Nuhu and Timon Gunen, Nigeria’s 5,000m record holder as well as Directors of the Sports Ministry joined the meeting to provide insights into long distance races and how best to improve Nigeria’s ranking.