The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) has charged athletics coaches in the African country to concentrate on grassroots development and monitoring of school sports competitions to groom young athletes for the nation.
AFN President, Solomon Ogba, stated this whilst speaking to journalist in Lagos just before the 2nd edition of the Pastor D.K Olukoya National U-18 Athletics Championship began at the Sports Complex of the Yaba College of Technology.
Ogba emphasized that it is now a challenge for coaches to monitor these young athletes as, considering the size of the country, national coaches cannot do it alone.
He said athletes like Mary Onyali and others were discovered during an inter house sports competitions and were monitored by coaches that discovered them and most of them became African champions and also have national records today.
“In other to discover and monitor young athletes, Athletics coaches should start attending schools inter house sports. There are some athletes today that are heard off who are good but with the monitoring of athletes by grassroots coaches, these athletes can be the rulers of tomorrow’s track and field in Nigeria.”
“Today, the likes of former African champion, Mary Onyali-Omagbemi and the current African champion, Damola Osayomi were discovered when they were young and they were monitored by their coaches, with the monitoring, they became African champions,” Ogba stated.
The Pastor D.K. Olukoya National U-18 Athletics championships would be used to select the Nigerian team for the IAAF World Junior championships in Barcelona this July.
According to the President of the athletics Federation of Nigeria, Solomon Ogba, the national U-18 championship is for young athletes under the age of 18 as no Para-military athletes will be allowed to compete.
Ogba, who is the second Vice President of the Nigerian Olympic Committee (NOC), said junior championships, has so far produced at least four junior athletes that will make it to the London 2012 Olympics in July.
He said to determine the ages of the athletes; International passports will be used to avoid persons above 18 competing while physical observation will also be applied.
The former Delta State Sports Commissioner also stated that from the third edition, there will be states preliminaries to really curb the menace of age cheat.