Nigeria will host the 22nd edition of the Africa Senior Athletics Championships in Lagos, in 2018. An agreement to this effect was signed last weekend between the Minister of Youth and Sports, Barr Solomon Dalung, and President of the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA), Mr. Hamad Kalkaba Malboum, in the presence of the President of Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Dr. Solomon Ogba. The CAA president, Malboum, was in the country and visited Dalung, during which he announced that a High Altitude Athletics Training Centre will be established in Jos, Plateau State. A statement issued by Mrs. Nneka Ikem-Anibeze, the minister’s Special Assistant, Media, said on the occasion, Malboum stressed the need for Africans to develop their own athletes by setting up structures and facilities that will enhance and develop athletes in the continent.
“We have already set up a High Performance Training Centre in the University of Port Harcourt. We intend to set up another one in Jos for the middle and long distance runners because we have seen that we need to prepare our athletes in Africa. “When you send them to UK, in a few months they change nationality and easily become British citizens. Even their coaches don’t support our athletes because they want their own to win. So, this is why we need to set up our own facility for long and middle distance runners in Africa to develop our own athletes,” Malboum explained. In his response, the youth and sports minister, Dalung, thanked the CAA president for his passion in promoting African sports and enhancing the prospects of African youths.
“Sport is one of the strongest weapons of promoting development in Africa. The only thing that can provide gainful employment for youths and engage them is sport. With the support of the government, I have discussed with officials in South Africa that there is a need for us to strengthen the Council of Ministers meeting and begin to identify the relevant issues that will move African sports forward and also give Africa a comparative advantage to compete with other countries of the world.
“It is the absence of facilities that makes African athletes travel for training outside Africa and end up becoming citizens of countries where they trained and camped. If we must also domesticate our own talents and skills for the benefit of young Africans, then we must invest in the provision of modern sporting facilities in Africa. This will take us to the development of a functional high performance system with all the necessary equipment for the training, camping and development of African athletes,” Dalung said. A delegation from the IAAF and the CAA is expected to come for an initial inspection of the site in Jos for further recommendations and provision of facilities. The high altitude Athletics training centre when completed, will serve athletes from West Africa. Similar training centres are already located in South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Dakar and Zambia.