Nigeria’s Chances at the 2019 All African Games in Morocco
The 12th All African Games will take centre stage from nineteenth to thirty-first of August 2019 in Rabat, Morocco.
The All African Games which is a multi sports fiesta on the continent was first organized in 1965 in Brazzaville, Congo.
This will be the first time that the African Games will be hosted by Morocco.
Events will be held in seven Moroccan cities, namely: Casablanca, Rabat, Sale, Temara, Khémisset, Mohammedia, and el Jadida.
Malabo, Equatorial Guinea was initially chosen to organise the 2019 African Games at the second ordinary session of the Specialist Technical Committee on Youth, Culture and Sports, held at the headquarters of the African Union, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in June 2016.
However, Equatorial Guinea was unable to host the games due to economic problems.
Rabat, Morocco was later selected to replace Malabo, Equatorial Guinea as host of the 2019 edition.
Athletes will be competing in twenty-six different sports including, volleyball, basketball, football, weightlifting, boxing, wrestling and gymnastics.
Other games in which athletes will be competing for medals in the thirteen day sports meet are triathlon, table tennis, shooting, equestrian, archery, fencing, tennis, swimming, handball, karate, judo, taekwando, badminton, rowing, canoe and kayak.
The 2019 edition of All African Games are marked by the participation of 6000 athletes, from fifty-four African countries, competing in twenty-six sports.
Also the Rabat 2019 All African Games will be a qualification step for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, for several sports. Thus, for the first time in the history of this important continental event, eighteen different sports are expected to be qualifiers for the Tokyo Olympics.
Nigeria is going into this year`s game with seven hundred and fifty contingents which include athletes, sports officials and government officials as against five hundred and seventy-two that went for the 2015 edition held in Congo Brazzaville.
At the last edition four years ago, Nigeria came a distant second with a total of one hundred and forty-four medals comprising forty seven gold, fifty-five silver and forty-two bronze, behind Egypt that garnered the highest number of medals including eighty gold at the most glamorous sports meet on the continent.
Considering the fact that Nigeria has more contingent already in Rabat Morocco for the twelfth All African Games, it should be an added advantage for a country with about one hundred and eighty million in population, to win more medals and probably dethrone the reigning African champions, Egypt.
No doubt Nigeria has her major strength in sports such as swimming, athletics, boxing, basketball, football and weight lifting.
The belief of many sports lovers in Nigeria is that the nation`s contingents are not going to morocco on a jamboree but for a credible representation of the country.
What remains now is for the Federal Ministry of Sports, all sports federations and other relevant stakeholders to give adequate supports, financially, morally and psychologically to the athletes to do the nation proud.
One issue that has continued to rear its ugly head in the nation’s sports sector is lack of proper planning on strategies and athletes welfare before, during and even after competitions.
There are cases of failed promises of rewards to many of the nation`s sports men and women after they might have won laurels for their mother land.
In fact reports have it that promises of rewards to many of the medal winning athletes to the last All African Games in Congo Brazzaville are yet to be redeemed by the government.
All these may not encourage the athletes to put in their best for the country especially when they think of life after sports.
it is however heartwarming that the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Sports, Mr Adesola Olusade and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha, during a meeting with Nigeria contingent to the 2019 All African Games in Abuja, assured the athletes of adequate supports and welfare at the games.
What remains is for the athletes and their handlers to put in their best towards getting a better result for Nigeria in Morocco.