Vanguard (Lagos)

1 February 2013

Nigeria: Cross River Maintain Stronghold On Grassroots Athletics

Cross River State Continued to Demonstrate that they are the champions when it comes to grassroots athletics development. The state's young athletes dominated the National School Sports Festival, which ends today in Port Harcourt.

Though it wasn't like a stroll in the park for the Bruce Ijirigho inspired athletes, the difference that was made is the professional training the Cross River athletes have received from the coaches that have been working with them for three years.

"Cross River is spending money on grassroots development programme and it is not a surprise they are dominating. My only wish is that other States will follow suit so that we can have a keener competition in school sports," said coach Johnny Igboka who runs a sports academy without any support from his state government Anambra Dr. Ijirigho who was happy with the development stated that Nigeria was way down in global athletics and to redress the situation more states should start their own developmental programmes particularly athletics endowed States like Delta, Edo, Imo, Anambra and Rivers.

"If we have four states doing what we are doing in Cross River, we will be getting somewhere. I have checked on the IAAF rankings and I noticed that Nigeria is way down in grassroots performances.

"It is only in the 800m we have an athlete measuring up to world standards.

"We have talents everywhere, but if we don't train them, we will continue to go down," he said.

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