By Zakari Isah, Kaduna
A cross section of coaches and officials from Northern states have accused the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) of sidelining and denying their athletes from participating in events where they have comparative advantage at the National Youth Games (NYG).
The protesting coaches alleged that the AFN under the factional President, Tonobok Okowa has deliberately scrapped middle-distance races like the 800m and 1500m, among others to clear way for certain states dominance in athletics events.
The coaches lamented that the delibrate policy had effected development of athletes in the region, particularly its overall performances on the games medals table.
“You can see that it is a deliberate plan to sideline quite a number of northern middle-distance runners from participation because some people in the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) want to clear way for a certain state to win at all costs.
“What becomes of our athletes in the Northern region whose strength, dreams and development were cut short over some state’s over bearing, cheats and domination.
“We have made several complains at every national fora but they keep telling us it will be looked into,” they reiterated”.
Reacting on the development, the factional President of AFN, Tonobok Okowa appealed for calm.
“I have called the acting Director Grassroots Sports in the Federal Ministry of Sports Development and the AFN Secretary to allow everybody compete in subsequent editions because that’s the way we can catch them young,” he explained.
The factional President said very soon, he will organise a meet, which would be all inclusive to make up for the loss, “so let them calm down,” he added.