Olympic bronze medallist, Falilat Ogunkoya has lauded the effort of Nigerian Breweries plc for the Maltina School Games initiative launched on Friday for the discovery and development of talents especially in athletics in Nigeria.
The Atlanta 1996 400m Olmypic bronze medallist who runs an athletics foundation for the same purpose of talent discovery and development reiterated the importance of school sports as a major means of increasing and improving the pool of sports talent in Nigeria.
“Most of us that lasted about 20 years in sports in Nigeria started from school,” she said. “I started with my four siblings but I was the only one who continued with it then into secondary school. One day my games master just said let’s draw a line and he said everybody that runs today will go for the inter-house sports relay and that’s how I started.
“When I and my colleagues started, we were representing Nigeria from secondary school. They started grooming us from junior secondary school and we were the ones that chased all the senior athletes.
“We went to the World Junior Championships where I won 200m and Tina won 100m way back in 1986 and then we (Nigeria) went to sleep. But if we can do this along with other corporate bodies supporting Maltina – which is why I’m hammering on the fact that it has to be a long term project and not just a one-off – this is because you need to have a database and monitor them because when you organise a competition, the last person might be the one who will be the best later on in life.
“So you must have an updated database of the athletes and their performance to monitor their progress. With school sports it is a long term project with but the talents are there in our schools. Kids are the future and if you manage them well they won’t venture into societal ills. This is a wake up call for us to do this and ensure it goes on for the long term,” she said.