Cycling: Nigeria asked to host 2nd edition of African cup event – Massari
The President of Nigeria Cycling Federation, NCF, Giandomenico Massari has revealed that the International Cycling Federation (UCI) has asked Nigeria to host the second edition of the African cup event and plans are already on the way to making it a reality.
Massari who was a guest on Channels Television’s Sports on Friday confirmed that the coronavirus outbreak disrupted their activities just when the sport was achieving some success nationally and internationally and gaining popularity.
“We are in constant communication with the international and continental body. Incidentally, today marks one year we hosted and won the African track championship in Abuja. Nine countries participated and Nigeria did so well and won 51 medals.
“We also won more medals at other international events. We want to maintain and even surpass that level. We are planning to go back to the tracks or roads the moment the restrictions are lifted. Organise events at different locations in the country.”
“We are already making plans and constantly in touch with the board to ensure that we are not losing grounds and is geared towards being ready when sporting activities are restored,” he stated.
He described the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity that can be used to strategise on different ways in developing sports in the country.
But he admits it also provided a window to plan better for the resumption of sporting activities.
“COVID-19 has disrupted all our activities. Notwithstanding, we are trying our best individually, because the pandemic has ensured we don’t work as a group, particularly in training.
“But our cyclists still try to train individually, because it is important not to lose the level of fitness that has been achieved in sports. And that can be achieved through constant training. It is important to maintain that”, Massari said.
The president confirmed that there are a lot of plans for post-COVID-19 and that’s to return to the level they were before the pandemic and hope to be better.
Funding is a major challenge to not just cycling but sports in Nigeria. Massari believes it can be tackled when administrators improvise on activities that will benefit the sponsors and spark public interest.
“We cannot keep relying on government because they cannot do everything for us. Private organisations must step in to assist in sponsoring activities. We must look for ways to tackle the issue of funding.
“We must think out of the box, look at sports as a business. The Ministry of Sports has mapped out strategies in that direction and we try to follow them because it is the right way to achieve sustainability and provide opportunities to more people to join the sport and make a career out of it too. That’s the only way we can achieve good success.”
The Nigeria Cycling Federation agrees that grassroots development is very important. Massari confirms that development at the grassroots level has been a major focus for the federation. He identified the schools as a good place to achieve the objectives.
“In the past, we have organized a lot of advocacy programmes, mostly in form of camps for young people, particularly in the schools because you can find a potential champion and young talents and ignite more interests for cyclists in the primary, secondary and university level.
“That is the best way to approach it. We have good plans to organize training camps in schools in the six geo-political zones to make sure we keep the advocacy going and at the same time attract new talents (boys and girls). This is very important and one of the major focuses of the federation. By doing this, the sports will gain followership and be popular.”
Through the support of the international body, the NCF have organized courses for match officials with a target of ensuring they graduate and get some level of prestige and be appreciated internationally.
“Some of them have graduated and ready to officiate continental and international events.
“Standard is very important for us and that’s why we keep training our coaches, mechanics and referees to ensure we raise the level of development. We have some athletes already doing well,” he concluded.
Nigerian cyclist, Grace Ayuba is the fifth in the world in her category and Massari believes it is a testament of the hard work the federation is doing in developing the sports in the country.