The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) has canvassed the need to instill discipline among the junior athletes preparing for the World U20 Athletics Championship scheduled to hold at the Moi International Sports Centre in Nairobi, Kenya from August 17 to 23.
Indiscipline among athletes has been a major problem for Team Nigeria at major championships, and the AFN says it would do everything possible to tame it at the junior level.
AFN President, Tonobok Okowa, told The Guardian that some of the issues that arose in Nigeria’s camp at the just concluded Tokyo Olympic Games could have been avoided if the athletes were able to demonstrate some level discipline.
“For instance, our athletes need to understand some basic things that lead to success at major events like the World Championships, Commonwealth Games and the Olympics Games,” Okowa said. “This idea of athletes staying awake late in the night browsing on social media to attend to friends and relations when they have an event the following morning has to stop. It takes self-discipline to attain results at major competitions.”
Okowa continues: “A lot of things were blown out of proportion by some of our athletes in Tokyo and many Nigerians back home believed them. I have no blame in everything that happened at the Olympics Games. People should be fair and say the truth. As president of the AFN, it is not everything that I will react to, but there are certain things our athletes should not do at competition grounds.”
He revealed that the AFN would take the issue of discipline of athletes very serious, beginning with the squad for Nairobi 2021 World Junior Championships. “We need to instill discipline on our junior athletes to Kenya. They should be able to realise that it is only a self-disciplined athlete that can excel at major competitions. We will sit them down and tell them the story behind the successes of some of past Nigeria’s great athletes. It is very important,” Okowa stated.
Meanwhile, Team Nigeria’s squad to the U20 World Championship will emerge today.
Athletes from different parts of the country began camping in Asaba on July 23, the day Tokyo Olympics Games started. The athletes took part in open trials on July 29, but today’s final selection will determine the fate of those to make the trip to Nairobi.