Athletics coaches dare minister over alleged plan to impose Americans on team

Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung

Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung

Team Nigeria’s hope of making an impact in the track and field event at the Rio Olympics Games may be hanging in the balance. Reason: an alleged ‘cold war’ is said to be brewing between some top Nigerian athletics coaches and the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, over an alleged attempt to impose two American coaches, Angie Taylor and Eric Campbell, on the Olympics team.

Taylor and Campbell are among four athletics coaches on the payroll of the sports ministry in Abuja since the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. While Taylor is said to be on a monthly take home of $12,000, Campbell is said to be receiving $10,000.

The duo were employed by former Sports Minster, Bolaji Abdullahi, shortly before London 2012 Olympics Games.

Some of the coaches who spoke with The Guardian yesterday at the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, during the annual Pastor D.K Olukoya’s U-20 Athletics Championship, alleged that the minister wants to ‘impose’ the two American coaches on AFN’s list of officials to the Rio Olympics Games.

“We will stage a protest march to the National Assembly in Abuja to register our grievances, if the sports minister insists on ‘imposing’ those two coaches on the AFN list of officials,” one of the coaches threatened.

According to him, the duo of Taylor and Campbell have not shown any commitment to Nigeria’s preparation for the Olympics and other competitions.

“Campbell is the luckiest man I have seen in the world. He is supposed to design a programme for the AFN at the beginning of each year, but since he came, we have not seen any of his programmes. He receives $10,000 monthly; enjoys himself playing golf at the IBB Golf Club in Abuja and he stays in a five-bedroom apartment with an official car. Yet, we won’t see him around any athletics event,” he stated

Another coach said: “Apart from this Pastor D.K Olukoya Championship, we have organized some other competitions this year as part of preparation of our athletes for the Rio Olympics. We have not set our eyes on both Taylor and Campbell. What then is the rationale for their inclusion on AFN’s list for the Rio Olympics? If the sports minister wants them, he should include Taylor and Campbell on his ministry’s list to Rio and not the AFN because it would create bad blood in the camp.

“Besides, including them on AFN list will mean dropping two or more coaches who have been doing the job.”

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