*Picks Kanu Nwankwo as his Olympic icon
By Oluwole Francis
Member of the Nigerian House of Representatives and Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Executive member, Hon. Suleiman Yahaya Kwande, has urged former African champion, Chief Mary Onyali, not to get distracted as she and her team work to raise funds to develop future and young but talented Nigerian sports stars.
Rep Suleiman Yahaya Kwande, representing Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency of Plateau State made the remark when he hosted the management team of the Basic Olympic Opportunity Sports Training (BOOST) in his office in the National Assembly saying, “your team are the symbol of hope for our nation’s podium success. I am personally impressed with the quality of the content of your programme.”
“I will do all that is within my power to support the delivery of this programme. This is what our nation needs. The athlete support structures, the fund for the retired athletes, the impact on the hosting community etc Every Nigerian deserve to rise up and support you.”
When it was time for the former sprinter and judoka to pick from the Top 10 National Sports Development icon, he picked ex-international and former Super Eagles skipper, Nwankwo Kanu, as his icon.
The NFF board member who was thrilled with the project revealed “I was as a child in England excellent in 100m, 200m and 4x100m as the child of a diplomat. When I came to FGC Maiduguri with my sibblings, my brother got injured and being treated with just water. Then, my dad who was Nigeria’s Ambassador to Switzerland, negotiated we should leave sports.”
Suleiman Yahaya Kwande, who was also a handball goalkeeper recalled details of his school experience. “When I came back to Nigeria I told my game master that I am a sprinter. Showed him my my spike shoe that I can run. I was waved aside. He advised me to “maintain your oyinbo life.”
“When they were about to start running I came to the track behind those lined to run. As the gun went they took off I now followed them and still beat them.
The game master said “oyinbo boy we have to start the race again.” We did and earned my own respect until I graduated from the school.
He however charged Chief Mary Onyali as a person to remain focused, drive the project and we will find the way to open the door for project’s feasibility. Because these is what we need to do to help the government. They can’t do it alone and with someone like you we are assured of making the project work,” he said.
In her speech, Chief Onyali told him, that “the pilot of the project has commenced in Offa in the name of Chief Ruth Ogbeifo-Balofin. Plateau and Ekiti states will enjoy the National Development Centres by the second quarter of the year.”
Present at the event included the Chief Executive of the project, Mr Olajide Fashikun, Olayinka Elebute, Oluwole Francis and Mrs. Sandra Onyekwere.