'Banger is a goal
Jersey ta wo, first issa goal
E ge ta ge wole gan issa goal
Super eagles wan tutu goal'
Nigerians chanted, all the way to the 2018 FIFA World Cup final. The Nigerian jersey was arguably the most interesting amongst the 32 competing teams. Sadly, the Nigerian team failed to impress and was eliminated in the group stages - a story Nigerians are all too familiar with. The Super Eagles have never crossed the second round in the FIFA World Cup and excluding the Paralympics, Nigerian athletes have only managed 3 gold medals in the Olympics since 1960.
The woes of Nigerian athletes have been attributed to the long neglect of athletes’ development and inadequate infrastructure in Nigeria. Only 1.6% (N2.7 billion) of the 2020 budget of the Federal Ministry of Sports Development is allocated to capital expenditure while 98.4% is spent on salaries, wages etc. (Punch, 2019). The state of sports in Nigeria has forced Nigerian athletes to compete for other countries.
The Federal Ministry of Sports Development has rolled out a 2020-2030 sports industry repositioning agenda to improve sports in the country. The aim is to ensure sports contribute about 2-3% of the Nigerian GDP in 5-10 years, we must now wit to see if this move will yield the desired results.
Nigerian athletes perform relatively well in African competitions but the international scene is the ultimate challenge. Could this repositioning be the much-needed boost for Nigerian athletes? Is Nigerian sports at a turning point or Nigeria still has a long way to go?