*govt alone can’t sponsor sports – Are
By Chris Suleiman, Abuja
President of the Nigeria Hockey Federation of (NHF), Senator Abdul Ningi on Sunday said in spite of the neglect the game of Hockey has suffered in the hands of successive Federal Governments, the federation has made a bold statement with the feat achieved on the international stage.
Senator Ningi while Speaking to journalists at the Abuja National Stadium venue of the ongoing National Hockey Super League said ” one of the basic problems that has been associated with this game is that, there is a complete and I say complete, lack of Federal Government interest for this game.
According to him “That inspite of lack of government attention to this game, inspite of the neglect of this game by succeeding governments and inspite of the challenges that state faces we can still run a tournament in this country and we can still participate in an international tournament.
He was speaking on the achievement of Niger Flickers, from Niger State North-Central Nigeria who won the National Super League last year and represented Nigeria in the African Clubs Championship where they picked a bronze medal to be rated the third best Hockey team in Africa.
He said “I am very happy that you are picking up the history of the game and I like the narration that you put across as the recent history of the game. This is a game that was a household name in the 60s, 70s and 80s.
The Bauchi state born former Senator added that “For the last two and half years since we are on board, this game has been run only by members of its association or its federation. We have been unable to tap from any sponsorship of any means that is because they don’t see this game has been viable, they don’t see this game has what its takes. Basically, a lot of Nigerians don’t have the history of what this game was in Nigeria in the 60s, 70s and 80s. I like the aspect that you said the Niger State team took a bronze medal in African Competition and that was a statement for us.
He added “What that say is that, there are passionate Hockey lovers across this country people that every given time when invited they would come and put in their widow’s might in making sure that this game is at the level that it is. This is not the level we are anticipating this game to be, in the last two years, we are almost 10th in Africa, but today and I can comfortably say we are fifth in the male category and fourth in the female category. That means we are a powerhouse as far as game of hockey is concern in Africa.
If we can get one percent and of course all the association one percent from what government gives to football I am telling you we would have been champions in Africa. But even without that, with the calibre of boys you’ve seen and girls and the determination of our sports Hockey lovers I am sure we will reach that marks.
Also speaking was the Director, Grassroot Sports Development Dr. Ademola Are who advocated for more support for the game of Hockey stressed that “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.
He however added that “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.
Mainwhile three games were played in Match-day two of the tournament where two wins and a draw was recorded while a total of nine goals were scored.
El-Kenemi Flickers of Borno held Police Machine to a 1-1 draw while defending Champions Niger Flickers relied on their striker Yohana Faruk who punished Plateau Tigers with three un-replied goals. Faruk dazzles fans at the match venue with his hattrick.
It was a match with plenty sparks a number of talking point between Yobe Desert Warrior and Union Banks. The banks boys proved to be more bouyant when they put three goals passed Yobe goal keeper while the Desert Warriors managed to put one back. 3-1 its ended.
However hostilities continue today with plenty of matches lined to take place on Match-Day Three.