*He is not a coach, can’t lead us again
*We don’t want him near our sport – athletes
*Coach Adu Uruemu eyes the Secretary General position
*Don’t mind them, they’re jealous of me – Okon
By Olajide Fashikun
Outgoing President of the Track and Field Coaches Association of Nigeria (TAFCAN), Mr Gabriel Okon’s ambition to contest again for the position has torn his members’ ranks just as athletes have warned the new leadership to take him far away from the national teams or expect revolts.
www.gongnews.net was bombarded with several calls from coaches many of who begged not to be named.
The election which has suffered a postponement may suffer a second postponement as most coaches had reasoned that the election should be left to hold during the All Nigeria national trials.
In a bid to get re-elected, the coaches said, Okon, who was elected to the AFN Board on the 13th June, said he would, as President, be able to protect the coaches now that he is on the board.
Presently, we are about 150 in the Association. May of us do not see Okon as a coach. He should point to a single athlete he had discovered in the last five years.
We shall resist anyone who does not have a coaching qualification or produced an athlete in the last three years or more from contesting any of the offices into TAFCAN.
Meanwhile, the outgoing Secretary General, Stephen Novo has disclosed that financial responsibility to TAFCAN is one of the basis for qualifying to contest or vote during the election. Forms are free.
Only last week, some athletes had inboxed www.gongnews.net urging the new President, Ibrahim Gusau, to be warned that they do not need Gabriel Okon near any of the national teams lest they will organise a revolt if and when he is so assigned. Four different athletes had sent a similar message.
Meanwhile, cerebral Lagos-based coach, Adu Uruemu has disclosed to us that he wants to run as the Secretary General. He is a productive coach. His athletes can be counted. We believe in him. However, efforts made to reach him to confirm this position was not fruitful before going to press.
Gabriel Okon in a telephone response told www.gongnews.net to be a member of TAFCAN is to be a coach and financial member. Even a primary or high school coach is qualified to contest any position. I am a coach.”
He added, “I did not come back to Nigeria to produce athletes. It is athletes produced already that I refine. Many of my athletes include Gloria Kamasuode, Franca Idoko, Obinna Metu, Erukpe Erayokan who I took as a 46.50s and made a 44.95 within one year. Tosin Adeoye, Margaret Etim, Sikiru Adeyemi is currently undergoing refinement, Patience Okon, Samson Nathaniel Peace Okoh.”
Very few coaches can do what I am doing today in the country. I am in the class of John Smith. For instance, I’ve not been paid for the past 16 months. While others like Eric, Afilaka and Angie Taylor have left, I am still here. That is the difference. I do what I need to do. I am also an American, I could have left back to the US.
Now that I am sitting on the AFN Board, as President of TAFCAN, I will be able to drive the issues of coaches to the front burner. I am a blessing to Track & Field. I brought TAFCAN to the new place of glamour she occupies now.
I spend my money to drive the Association. Many of the members are not paying. It is only during election, they will pay up what they are owing. No one can intimidate me. None of them can do what I am doing now. They don’t know half of what I know. Its simple put, jealousy.
On the alleged threat of athletes to protest his relationship with the national teams, he said, “let any athlete that want to revolt do so. Good and great athletes won’t talk of revolting against me. What will be their grouse? That I am not a good coach or what? They cannot dictate whether I belong to any national team or not.”