Founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Chief Afe Babalola, SAN, on Monday announced a donation of N10m to the Nigeria Olympic Fund to support the growth of sports in the country.
Babalola made the donation in Ado Ekiti after endorsing the Nigeria Olympic Fund, an initiative of former Nigerian internationals, to raise funds to support the Nigerian team to the Olympics.
He called on corporate bodies and individuals to contribute to sports funding in Nigeria, saying the dismal performance of Team Nigeria at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the dwindling fortunes of sports in the country was worrisome.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria said it was only through such contributions that “we will deliberately turn around our fortunes in sports and indeed other areas of human endeavour. I must point out that government cannot do it alone. There is need for private participation.”
The Executive Director (Technical), Nigeria Olympic Fund, Mary Onyali, hailed Babalola for his support towards sports development, which she said was the reason former Nigerian sportsmen and sports women voted him as the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Basic Olympic Opportunity Sports Training.
The ex-Nigerian sprinter said the Celebrity Endorsement, which kicked off with Babalola’s public identification with the project, had sights on over 10,000 celebrities.
She explained that 10 per cent of the money would go into the National Athlete Welfare Fund to cater for aging sportsmen and women.
“Thirty per cent goes into the Nigeria Olympic Committee Solidarity Fund, which sports federations will be able to assess based on performance. Fifty per cent goes into the BOOST project. The balance of 10 per cent shall go into our operational account to drive this advocacy project,” she said.
She said Ekiti would in January 2016 enjoy the pilot scheme of the project with six schools in the state selected, while the Elite Athletes Programme for Tokyo 2020 will begin in ABUAD.
Onyali added, “Our return to glory as a nation is here. We shall bring one million children into sports in four years. We have the talents in this country. We shall recruit and keep the very best coaches, sports scientists and sport medics, referees, umpires, volunteers and all.
“From 2018, there will be youth leagues where these kids will compete at state, zonal and national levels. A new generation of stars will be born, professionally supported and managed to stardom. Our nation will never be the same. Over 27,000 professionals will be expected to work with us on this project to maturity.”