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EXCLUSIVE: Walter Imoedemhe - NHF has plans to get Nigeria Hockey back to the top

One of FIH Tournament Directors, Nigeria ex international player and the Tournament Director of the just concluded National Hockey League 1 Tournament, Walter Imoedemhe has said that Senator Abdul Ahmed Ningi led administration is doing everything to get Nigeria Hockey back to where it should be “the top” in Africa.

In an exclusive interview with sportlineng, Walter Imoedemhe talked extensively about the problems Hockey is facing in Nigeria and what the new administration is doing to take sport back to the top.

He highlighted the reasons why the country failed to impress at the African Hockey Championship held in South Africa last year and why countries like Ghana, South Africa has left Nigeria behind.

“The reason we have been left behind by countries like Ghana, South Africa and Egypt is simply because of continuity and consistency.

“We don’t have enough tournament and that’s where NHF is stepping in. If you don’t have enough National tournaments you can’t prepare for International tournaments.

“But NHF is doing its best to get sponsors to sponsor our teams for tournaments. The major problem is we are depending to much on State governments and when they can’t provide funds we don’t make it to tournaments,” he said.

He also has something to say about the country’s below par outing at the African Championship held in South Africa last year.

“The National Hockey League 1 Tournament is the only tournament we have played for this calender year, and the second one is coming later this month in Abuja so you don’t expect Nigeria to go out next year to an international tournament and perform well.

“Thats why NHF is organizing Veteran League to eradicate the fund issues facing Nigeria Hockey Federation, we want them to support the National Federation.

“If you don’t have many National Tournaments you cannot have a good national team, that was the problem we had in South Africa.

“Years back we’ve been performing better than this because we have several tournaments.

“Look at the National Sport Festival we don’t have it anymore, we are not even sure if it will be hosted and all we have is a straight tournament in a year, where will you get the players who are inform, they are match rusty.

“Even when you call them for tournaments they go just once and they don’t perform well so we are trying to go into the area of getting sponsorship.

“If we can have youth development programs like the U-21 before the main tournaments we’ll have a good national team those are the areas we are looking into.

“The major problem is that we don’t have many tournament in this country.”

He talked about the Master League organised by the NHF for Veterans and its importance in raising funds for the Federation.

“We have Master League for those above fifty who are into business but have played Hockey before, former hockey players and head coaches, we want to plead with them to understand our problems so they can come to our aid.

“We believe that next year will be better if we have 50 masters, I don’t think we’ll have money problem for new calender year. I want to appreciate President Ningi he is really doing his best, he single-handedly sponsored our trip to South Africa, no body has refunded his money.

“We are optimistic that all the teams will turn out for the Super League, because the winners of the Super League will represent the country at the African championship.


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