…As Onyali Bags SWAN Award
The President, Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Mr Honour Sirawoo says the new initiative of the Nigeria Sports Development Fund Inc (NSDFI) to raise N900 million to support athletes is a life saver and one that will help athletes have longer preparation.
The NSDFI, led by Olympian Mary Onyali, plans to give each of the 90 athletes from five sports an annual Olympic grant of N10 million from the money to be raised.
Disclosing this in Abuja on Wednesday when he received Mary Onyali and her team, Sirawoo, who personally signed up for a 90-day campaign with NSDFI, noted, “we have been monitoring your activities, we are so proud of you and your team working to raise a new generation of stars. We are not just proud of you; we are with you all the way. If there is anywhere you want us to back you, let us know, we shall back you fully.”
According to him, “This new Olympic grant initiative is so unique. It is affordable to an average Nigerian including okada riders, market women and all. We urge and pray Nigerians will have the patriotic essence to key in and contribute their quota. I am imagining the number of families this initiative will bring up.
“You would have helped the nation to solve our problem of late preparations. The beneficiaries will feel a higher sense of patriotism to want to work harder. They will want to justify the confidence reposed in them by working so hard. I commend you for this vision and God will help you.”
Impressed by the sense of patriotism and dignity displayed by Mary Onyali, the SWAN boss declared that she has been nominated by the national secretariat of the body for an award during the next Full Council meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Speaking on the initiative behind the lofty programme, Onyali, a five-time Olympian, disclosed that it is aimed principally at investing in athletes and turning them to world-beaters in various sports.
According to her, “This is a private initiative. It is not government. All we want is 4.5 million Nigerians to give us N200 each. Anyone giving us a multiple is just taking us faster to the destination.
“By the first week in August, we want all the 90 athletes to have gotten their grants and intensify their preparations for Tokyo 2020. We hope about one-third of them will get the qualification and at least, another one-third to win at least bronze. That will give us 10 bronze medals which will be an improvement from where we are coming from.”
“For any Nigerian in Tokyo to get a bronze we shall pay out N5m, N7.5m for Silver and N10m for gold. We are giving a committee the task to manage that role for us. They will soon be inaugurated.”
She called on Nigerians to see the fundraising as a national call aimed at assisting government to get the best of athletes represent Nigeria at the next Olympic in Tokyo, Japan.
“We have to invest in our athletes. Sports development funding is never and can never be a government project. That is why we are using private initiatives to drive these processes. We want to achieve this in 90 days and wish Nigerians will make a success out of this for our nation. God bless Nigeria,” she summed up.
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