Nigeria risk facing a ban from International Hockey Federation,(IHF) should it forfeit their slot to compete at the 2019 Africa Olympic qualification tournament in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The president of the Nigeria Hockey Federation (NHF) Senator Abdul Ningi, said they are unable to secure financial support for the team to compete in South Africa adding the sports ministry has been reluctant to pay for the team participation.
The qualifiers will mark the fourth edition of the African qualification tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the winner of the tournament will represent the continent in next year’s Olympics Games.
Eight countries including Nigeria hosts South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Namibia, Ghana, Egypt and Botswana will be competing in the tournament, which scheduled to run from Monday 12th to Sunday 18th August 2019.
Speaking to newsmen in Abuja yesterday, Ningi expressed his discontent of the federation inability to secure the required funding from the sports ministry.
“We received a letter from the sports ministry indicating that there are no funds to sponsor the Hockey federation to the Olympic qualifier, this is painful and tragic,” he said.
“We have been in camp for the last three weeks both the male and female teams, the federation has fed them and also paid their camp allowances, only for the ministry to said that the government have not allocated money for them”
“It is unfortunate that we are this condition when the federation goes out, they are not carrying our names but Nigeria, we should appreciate their sacrifice, how can we perform if we don’t go for international competitions,if don’t get the required exposure,” he added.
According to him “We have gone out of our way to start the visa process with our personal funds, so when the funds are released we can go and compete.”
He further called on the National Assembly to investigate the budgets allocation for sports federations.
“We call on the National Assembly and the anti-corruption agencies to investigate and look at the budgets allocation for the sports federations in the last couple of years”.
“Prior to 2015 Nigeria was ranked in the male and female team 9 and 10 in Africa, presently we are ranked 3 and 4 respectively”.
On his parts, the players representative, Farouk Yohanna, stated that it will cost Nigeria a whooping €8,000 if the country failed to send her national teams to the Africa games.
“The implication if we don’t go for the games means that we are going to be suspended from international competitions for a year or two and Nigeria will be fined €8,000.
“It’s going to cost us more if do not participate at the games, it will also affect the countries that will be participating this year and it will be a huge setback for the federation and the players” he concluded.
Team Nigeria is expected to depart the country on Thursday, 8 August 2019 to South African for the games with 20 players each in the male and female respectively.