Vanguard (Lagos)

9 December 2012

Nigeria: Athletics Development - Igboka Takes the Bulls By the Horns

Every time Nigerians faced the embarrassment of returning empty handed from international sports meets, the cry has always been about going back to the "drawing board" and "we need to develop our grassroots talents.

However, there has never been any drawing board or grassroots development. But coach Johnny Igboka is one man that has taken it upon himself to revive athletics in his home state.

Igboka, a former national high champion has established a sports academy, where football and athletes are been taught to kids. And some of those athletes excelled at 18th National Sports Festival, winning medals, they include Ugeh Kasie who won javelin women gold for Delta, Eze Onyeaocha won gold in the discus and Ojeme Clement Smart who won bronze in the short put.

The sports academy based in Nimo, Anambra State seem to be a breading ground for States' director of sports who poach athletes for the National Sports Festival. But according to Igboka, he is badly in need of funds to expand his horizons to produce more champions.

"This is something I have been doing on my own. This is because I believe that future of our sports depends on what we do today.

"It has not been easy, I only wish that I get support most especially from Anambra State. The State has so much talents, yet we are struggling to get medals at the Nationals Sports Festival.

"We need to get other coaches on board. I'm specialised in the high jump, but I'm just using the basic knowledge I got from books to coach the throwers, we also need sprints coaches," said the coach.

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