EXCLUSIVE: Goverment’s lack of interest in Hockey is killing the sport, says NHF President Senator Abdul Ningi
Nigeria Hockey Federation Chairman, Senator Abdul Ahmed Ningi has said that, it has been a ‘treacherous’ journey for Hockey in Nigeria in the last few years due to government’s total lack of interest in the sport.
Senator Abdul Ahmed Ningi in an exclusive interview with sportlineng said Nigeria is far behind other African countries because the government don’t sponsor the country to International tournaments and the country has failed to grow as the sport grows.
“It has been very long and treacherous journey for sports in this country and Hockey in particular.
“This is one of the sports that made impact in this country in the 70s and 80s in particular, but gradually football took government interest completely away from major sports, and successive civilian administrations have not sufficiently given other sports any chance of growing.
“We were one of the elites of the game in the 70-80s and even early 90s in Africa, but you know this is a game that keeps changing and revolving.
“Hockey is a game that is fully fledged in all the 6 continents of the world. Before you won’t hear of Korea, Argentina, Venezuela and Brazil, but today Argentina, Korea are one of the best Hockey playing countries apart from the traditional countries like Germany, India, Netherlands, England.
“What it means is that the pattern has changed, the dynamics have changed, a lot of people around the globe have shown what Hockey is and it has made tremendous impact in countries. Even in Africa, you hardly hear countries like Sierra Leone, Gambia, Senegal playing, but today they are in the Africa League.
“Hockey is an expensive sport, everyone needs to have a boot and stick unlike football where all you need is a Football and a boot, so we need government commitment and it is absent in Hockey and many other sports.
“The just concluded National Hockey Super League was sponsored by the members of NHF, nothing like government interest, attention or involvement. That’s reason why in the previous 5-10 years we haven’t gone out as a nation to participate in African competitions.
“Hockey is a sport that is also been ranked, it is when you go out and do well in Africa that you are been exposed.
“Only three countries represent Africa at the International competition; Ghana, Egypt and South Africa, because they are always going for the African competition where they win and when they win they represent Africa.”