By Sahr Morris Jnr.
Just a few weeks after the Athletics Federation of Nigeria announced that it lacked sponsors and funds to run its programs, they have done the unthinkable…they hired former Olympic Gold medalist and world record holder in the 100m, Maurice Green.
Under normal circumstances, I would be happy and celebrate that, to borrow a slang from Arsene Wenger, we have “Like a new signing”. A world class athlete. However this is not normal circumstance in any way. Its time to stop and think.
Maurice Green, the statement said, would oversee the relays from now till after the Commonwealth Games and the African Championships. But the statement was short on a number of issues:
How much is Maurice Green paid? What does “oversee” mean? We have a highly paid overall Performance Director from the USA, Angie Taylor; we have another over paid performance director from the USA, Eric Campbell; we have a paid coach, US trained Gabriel Okon; what are their roles now? To “undersee” Maurice Greene?
All this is a cosmetic creation to deceive and make the illusion that some work is being done. Why hire a so-called American performance director, take a self styled American trained coach as your head sprint coach to the US and then throw all that in a mix by employing an untested coach in Maurice Green? He was the best sprinter in the world…yes..but what is his pedigree in coaching? Who has he worked with to justify his selection? As a motivator, yes I would have supported but not if being paid with resources that could have trained our athletes and coaches back at home, organize competition and give some aid to our long suffering and neglected home based athletes. We have had Nigerian coaches that have coached world champions….we have produced world beating relay teams..all with Nigerian coaches..why does it have to be any different now? How much is he being paid? What’s the role of those coaches taken from here?
Greene is known now for his TV appearances in Dancing with the Stars….AFN will bring a new tune to his steps.
And the federation goes on to talk of how we need sponsors? The first role of any federation is to develop their sport back home from down up and to maintain a legacy of producing talents? Can we really say that we are doing that? If the Federation had any grand plan, the best thing they would have done was to bring Maurice Greene to Nigeria to hold a clinic for kids and motivate young people here; the sports will get some publicity and hopefully new participants and sponsors. But in their own wisdom, he will remain in the US training our athletes, and then take them to the Games. What a load of rubbish.