NASFEST 2020: Ogun Athletes Protest Over Shoddy Preparation, Unpaid Allowance - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE

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Monday, March 16, 2020

NASFEST 2020: Ogun Athletes Protest Over Shoddy Preparation, Unpaid Allowance

       • Protesters at the State Sports Ministry,                            Abeokuta

From Babalola Gafar, Abeokuta

Ogun State contingent for the 2020 National Sports Festival (NASFEST) slated for Edo State, have stormed the Ogun Sports Ministry office beside  MKO Abiola Stadium, Abeokuta, protesting the state government's shoddy preparation for the festival as well as non payment of their allowance.

The protesters in their hundreds comprising  contingents for Rugby, Volleyball, Basket Ball and Boxing competitions respectively seized the entrance to the Sports Commissioner's Office, demanding that their welfare,  interest and sports generally  be taken seriously by the state government.

They said they were appalled that some of their colleagues, especially the Rugby players, having qualified for the competition, were, allegedly, asked to stay away by the state government.

The protesters claimed the state government cited inadequate fund as reason the Rugby contingents were asked not to participate in the forthcoming NASFEST in Edo which opens on March 22.

According to them, the government also made it clear that whoever that decides to go, would only do so at his or her own expense.

They alleged that the state government has not deemed it fit to pay them the qualifying allowance for the competition, saying they should be motivated appropriately.

Speaking on behalf of the Rugby players, Solomon Oludaresimi, said their feeding was nothing to write home about, lamenting that the Sports Commissioner, Oluwadare Kehinde, wants them to sponsor the participation by themselves and at the same time, expects the athletes to adorn Jerseys bearing Ogun State emblems.

Solomon said: "Some of the teams that qualified for sport festival Edo 2020 were being removed from going to the festival, teams like rugby which is one of the most important team that must be there (Male rugby), the most dangerous game, in fact I can say it's the most dangerous game in the whole sport. 

"It was removed from going because they said there is no fund. Why did they remove us, that number one. Secondly, we the rugby players have been in camp by ourselves for the past one month sponsoring ourselves with our money, we've sustained injuries with no medicals, we fed ourselves. 

"Now two or a week ago, we heard they've removed us, if it was anybody how would you feel? We also heard in the news that Ogun state has camped its  athletes, fed, sheltered and paid which is a lie. No contract, no staffing, nothing, just nothing. 

"We also went to play an elimination game on 4th of January, and we've not gotten our elimination money. 

"All the competitions we participated in, have not been paid for, which include volleyball, Basketball etc.

"Even the feeding they gave us was N900 Naira, some N1,200 per day, some N700 Naira. As a sport man who plays rugby I spend like N3,200  on food a day. So, what are they now telling me?

"We have many individuals sport but the problem now is that there is no money, now they are removing us which is the main team because they can't control us because they've removed our money and we won't agree. So why? We rugby player most play whether they like it or not. 

"The commissioner was telling us on Friday that if we can sponsor ourselves there, is that possible? 

"When we went for elimination they said we should sponsor ourselves there and represent Ogun state without money. We registered ourselves for sixteen days. 

"We are playing for the state, we brought out Jersey, feed ourselves, accommodate ourselves, medication was ourselves, that is very bad."

But addressing the athletes, the Sports Commissioner, Dr. Oluwadare Kehinde,  assured them that the government takes their interest and welfare very seriously, saying they would be attended to even before the competition commences.

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