By Terver Dominic, Abuja
Nigeria’s hockey team has been tipped to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
A member technical committee of the Nigeria Hockey Federation, Ahmed Bashar said this when he appeared on Voice of Nigeria Sports programme, Talking sports.
The former Nigeria hockey player also said that ”Nigeria is well prepared to fight on all fronts when the African qualifiers for the Tokyo Olympics begin in South Africa in August.”
He urged the Sports Ministry to give the Hockey federation the necessary support for it to achieve all programmes line up by the federation in 2019.
“Nigeria has the ability to rule Africa when it comes to hockey, the major challenge has been that of adequate funding, even though the Sports Ministry has over the years been doing its best to ensure the Nigeria Hockey Federation is well funded to realise its programmes, the ministry needs to do more,” Bashar stated.
Appeal for assistance
He pleaded with corporate organisations and individuals to assist the government in funding the Hockey federation for it to achieve its target in 2019.
“It is very important that the Hockey Federation is well funded to prepare the national hockey team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games qualifiers scheduled for South Africa in August, all hands must be on deck to achieve this, it is based on this that I am calling on the private sector and individuals to support the Federation in realising its programmes for the year, to enable us go to South Africa to make an impact,” he said.
The former Nigeria hockey player urged the current crop of players to make sacrifices for Nigeria’s greatness saying ‘‘they must see this as a sacrifice in the interest of the nation.”
“In the past, we used to put Nigeria first not minding what we stand to gain, we play for pride, but these days when players are invited to camp they start asking you how much is our allowances…In those days, we were not bothered about allowances, all we were interested in was playing for Nigeria, when we win; we get our allowances but not now. I think we need to go back to the good old days where interest and the pride for playing for Nigeria superseded financial gains,” he said.