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Sports News of Saturday, 21 January 2023


Oshikoya leads legendary women athletes for AFFAN awards

Toyin Aluko Toyin Aluko

The President, Association of Former Female Athletes of Nigeria (AFFAN), Dr (Mrs) Toyin Aluko, has revealed that the celebration of great women athletes of the1960s and 1970s’ today in Abuja is proper recognition of former women athletes of yesteryears that did the nation proud in their heyday.

She said the former women e athletes who selflessly served Nigeria in their prime have not been truly celebrated by the country , adding her association put it as mission statement to consider recognition of former women athletes for their meritorious service to sports development in the country.

“We are honouring the former female athletes of the 60s and 70s,” Aluko told NationSport.” We realized that they have since not been honoured as former national athletes. In the 60s and 70s we had just eight sports.

“The sports are athletics, table tennis, swimming, badminton, basketball, volleyball, Handball and hockey.

“We have added all the former seasoned athletes together both within and outside Nigeria and many of them that are in Nigeria will attend the programme.

“Mrs Modupe Oshikoya is in from the United States. The Association of Former Female Athletes of Nigeria deemed it fit to recognize this group of people who were unsung heroes during their time.

“We want to honour them and appreciate their selfless services at the time and they are all eager to be in Abuja to celebrate one and another.

“The occasion will give them opportunity to speak with their former teammates whom they had not spoken to for decades.”

The AFFAN President noted that the retired athletes are still available to contribute meaningfully to sports development in the country and shouldn’t be seen as tired legs after they retire from the sports actively.

She continued: “We want the young athletes to emulate them. Some of them are still available to contribute meaningfully to sports development in Nigeria.

“When the Association was formed some years ago, this was one of our vision and mission statement because we felt that he who wears the shoes knows where it pinches.”

The former secretary of Hockey Federation of Nigeria, said AFFAN was seeking collaborations with government for future events of the association even as she called on sporting Associations to tap from the experience of the retired athletes and engage them to serve as role models to current athletes offering their experience and services.

“We hope the government will collaborate with us because after this we are going to the former female athletes in the 80s,” she said. “We want to transfer the experience we have had overtime to the next generation so that we will not sit down and be overtaken by events.

“We want to equip and support ourselves so that government will know that even though we have retired from active sports we are still contributing towards sports development in Nigeria,” she added.

Aluko was nostalgic about her experience as a former and how many was proud about representing the country without monetary considerations.

She said they had sufficient time to prepare for competitions and got early to competition venues because the government made funds available as and when due.

She charged the government to pay attention to the welfare of athletes and that making the necessary funds available for athletes for adequate preparations should be prioritized.

She offered: “There was no handshake not to talk of envelope. We did things with pride that we were representing our nation Nigeria and we were satisfied with that. The most important thing then was we had no issues of inadequate preparations then.

“We had enough time to prepare for competition. It is quite different from now where we keep on hearing about lack of funds.

“The most important thing is that the most important person, actor in any sporting organisation is the athlete . Without the athletes there is no sports industry and sports report.

“The athletes must come first in all that we do. We talking about the coaches, administrators and even journalists are all working towards helping athletes to achieve their full potential in sports. Everything that surrounds the athletes must be prioritized,” she concluded.

The AFFAN event starts today with novelty games involving athletics, handball, volleyball, hockey, table tennis, swimming, badminton and basketball at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, package B, Abuja as from 3pm.

While the main event, the AFFAN Award Night, holds at the Hawthorn Suites, Garki II, Abuja tomorrow, from 5pm.

Some of the athletes expected at the event are Modupe Oshikoya (Athletics); Toyin Alashe and Joy Oliwe and their handball teammates of 1978; Essien Edet (volleyball, 1977); Balikisu Popoola (table tennis, 1966); national hockey team (1975); Grace Edwards (1976) among others.

Aluko pointed out that women athletes of the 80s would be next to be honoured after the debut edition.