Dr. ADEMOLA ARE is the Director Grassroots Sports Development National Sports Commission, in this interview with CHRIS SULEIMAN for AUTHENTIC News Daily, at the ongoing National Hockey Super League at the Hockey Pitch of the Abuja National Stadium on Sunday, spoke about the new height the game of hockey as attained in Nigeria as well as advocated for more support for game even as he expressed confidence the nation has the necessary materials in terms of players to achieve desire result in the Continent. Excerpt
How would you describe the quality and level of improvement in the game of Hockey over the years?
Thank you very much, what we are witnessing today or since yesterday is one of the that is the National Hockey League for men and women and it is one of the Flagship programme for. Nigerian Hockey Federation (NHF). The game of Hockey has been in the doldrum for sometime, and the board members of the Federation are doing all they can to ensure the game is revived in the country. And this is the aftermath of all the internals workings of the Federation. From what we’ve seen so far the athletes, the Hockey players have what its takes to take the country to places, they need more of this exposure, they need more competitions, they need more support to ensure that Nigeria actually regained its lofty height in the field of hockey.
The tournament is also an avenue for the selection of players for the National Team players. From the players you have seen so far in the tournament have you seen material good enough that would do the nation proud if selected for the National team assignment?
Yes, definitely we have the players what they need now is after selection of the players that would represent the country, they need more time to be together, to train together for necessary cohesion and if we can do that as soon as possible then, they would do us proud when they get to Ghana.
I notice same old faces in some of the teams without new inclusion and to some extent its affect the level of play as I observed. Is there no succession plan that would bring in younger players for the sake of future of the game?
Yes we have programmes to ensure that we groom younger players, but like you noted yesterday, each team was very cautious because that was probably their first meeting in this league, everybody has been very cautious nobody wanted to make any mistake. And that was why the match ended in a draw. From what you saw and looking at their game today, you will see that there is more spark in what they are doing today. So is just the normal thing at the beginning of Programme in competition everybody wants to be cautious not to make mistake, not to conceed goals, they played more of defensive game. So with time, as the competition progresses definitely the teams would get better.
In terms of funding for the game of Hockey, what would be your call to private and corporate individual in terms of support for the game?
Yes, whether we like it or not we have to come to the reality and that is ensuring that sports is not only funded by the government, the necessary stakeholders, private individuals, Corporate Organisation should come in to assist because government cannot do it alone. We’ve been preaching this for a very long time. So we are appealing, it is an appeal for them to come give us their terms, give us their conditions so that they can get necessary leverage in whatever funding they are putting into the game.