Young Nigerians who hope to make a living from Gymnastics may not realise it if fans do not urgently salvage the sport from dearth of competitions, an official has said.
The Secretary, Lagos State Gymnastics Association, Sadic Momodu, made the assertion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigerian (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos.
Momodu lamented the state of the sport in Nigeria, saying it needed the intervention of the sport’s lovers for the association to organise training and competitions.
He told NAN that the sport was increasingly becoming unpopular among sportsmen and women due to lack of equipment and competitions resulting from inadequate funding.
“During my time as a gymnast, we had enough competitions which were keenly contested among the gymnasts, but this is not the case now as we are left with none.
“The state of the sport now is worrisome; we hardly get sponsorship for our events which are meant to keep our athletes fit and prepare ahead of competitions.
“Apart from Lagos State, no other state in Nigeria sponsors gymnastics events and after the last one we had in Lagos, we have been looking for a way to have another.
“The last 2nd Invitational Artistic Gymnastics Championships sponsored by Lagos State was the only one we have had since the start of the year,’’ he said.
Momodu added that in spite of lack of sponsorship, the
federation was trying all it could to keep the athletes fit.
“Since we are unable to get sponsors, we are trying to organise an in-house competition within ourselves so as to encourage our gymnasts and keep them fit.
“What could have been an intervention is the National Sports Festival which we are not sure if it will hold this year.
“So, if there is no National Sports Festival this year, automatically we may not have any major competition.
“The Sports festival is the only major competition where our athletes compete for honours, aside this, we have no other as nobody is willing to sponsor gymnastics competition,’’ he said.
Momodu said the association had many programmes lined up for the gymnasts but lack of funds remained the impediment toward achieving its goal.
“Without competition, we will not know the fitness level of our athletes, so, we are really trying to look for sponsors for our events.
“Gymnastics as of today is the least recognised game in Nigeria, other sports such as football, basketball and others have soaked up the little attention we want.
“In spite of our laudable proposals, lack of sponsorship is a
great pain in our neck and we have done all we could to salvage the situation all to no avail.’’
On the state of training facilities in other states in Nigeria, Momodu revealed that most states cannot boast of adequate training facilities compared to Lagos.
“Training facilities in the other states are grossly inadequate; most of them send their gymnasts to Lagos for training, then, they represent them.
“Lagos serves as the hub of gymnastics activities in Nigeria; most of the gymnastic coaches reside in Lagos.
“We are also proposing to have an in-house competition by the middle of August this year, but without money, there is little we can do,’’ he said.