A U.S.-based ex-National Professional Tennis player, Sadiq Abdullahi says retired athletes, at home and in The Diaspora, must be involved in the revitalisation of sports in Nigeria.
“They must be included to play one role or the other in the process to facilitate a holistic revival sports in the country,’’ Abdullahi told the latest online news portal, Echonewsng.com on Tuesday.
Abdullahi, who spoke via telephone from his base in the U.S., said the time had come to rally the ex-internationals to put their experiences to use in helping the survival of sporting federations.
“Most of us in The Diaspora made it life through sports. It is only fair that we are allowed opportunities to give back to the system that assisted us.
“The potential and opportunities are still there to support the upcoming ones with talent, so that they can benefit through sports.
“There must be ways and means to get us involved. Many of us have built solid contacts in the various countries, where we have been domiciled.
“There is no better time than now that the country is faced with difficulties including the current recession to offer to serve our sport and through it help to serve humanity,’’ said Abdullahi, now a sociology professor.
He adds: “but in doing so, things must be in the open. Many things are shrouded in secrecy.
“We played at the highest levels. We experienced what it takes to be at the top. We profited from systems that encouraged combining education and sport.”
According to him the current leadership in tennis in the country is not equipped to make a positive change.
“It should be changed to bring in fresh ideas for the sport to move forward.’’
“Things do not have to continue in the old ways. The last time I was home, I was assured that certain things are being worked but since then, I have not heard of developments.
“I hear that the sports ministry is rewriting the local rules guiding reconstituting of the national sports federations. That’s all I have heard,’’ he said.
“I hope the expected changes through the rewriting of the rules will make things better rather compound the already bad situation.’’
Abdullahi, born on Feb. 2, 1960 was a former tennis player, who represented the country at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. He was at the 4th All Africa Games in 1987, where he was medal for Nigeria at the Nairobi Games.
He was, however, stopped in the first round by Spain’s Javier Sánchez.
The right-handed player reached his highest singles ATP-ranking on Oct. 14, 1985, when he became the number 262 of the world.
Abdullahi played alongside tennis greats, like Nduka Odizor (The Duke), Tony Nmo, David Imonitie, Bulus Husaini and Godwin Kienka. ##