Images from the Abuja screening of Making of Champions: “The History”, including the Director Bambo Akani sitting and chatting with the new Performance Directors Angie Taylor and Eric Campbell (front row)
On Tuesday, Nigeria unveiled to the world the signings of two new performance directors to overhaul Sports in the country, Angie Taylor and Eric Campbell. Angie Taylor, a Track & Field coach for over 20 years at various American Universities and USA head coach at the 2003 World Championships, has been hired to oversee Athletics (Track & Field), Boxing, Taekwondo, Weightlifting and Wrestling at the High Performance Centre in Abuja. Eric Cambpell, who was previously a Track & Field Coach at Georgia State and the Youth and Junior National Team Coach for Saudi Arabia, was hired as the Performance Director of Athletics specifically.
These hires could signal a turning point for Sports Performance in Nigeria, and are clear indications that the current Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abduallahi, is intent on making a big impact in a sector where Nigeria has long performed below its potential. Indeed, besides football, Africa’s most populous nation with 170 million people has not even begun to scratch the surface of its sporting potential.
One might recall that in August, immediately following the World Championships, the Honourable Minister held a 3-day strategy session, flying in three consultants from London (including Making of Champions Founder, Bambo Akani) to help chart the course for installing a High Performance System for Sports in Nigeria. At the time, he boldly stated that there would be some important announcements come November, and he has proved true to his word.
“The Fire can only come with Reward” – Bambo Akani answering a question during the Q&A which followed the Abuja screening of the Making of Champions film:
Somewhat fortuitously, the arrival of the new foreign Performance Directors in Nigeria coincided with the Abuja screening on Monday of the Making of Champions: “The History” documentary about Nigerian Athletics, that we’ve spent the last year making. As such, the two new hires attended the screening as guests of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) President and Technical Advisor, Solomon Ogba and Commodore Omatseye Nesiama, who were also in attendance.
AFN Technical Director, Commodore Nesiama commenting on the film after the viewing: “The Making of Nigerian Champions begins now!”
It will be very interesting to see how things begin to unfold in Nigerian Sports in the coming months and years. The new Performance Directors will need at least one Olympic cycle (4 years) to get Nigeria firing on all cylinders in the respective sports they have been mandated to focus on. The one question that will have to be answered, if the goal is for Nigeria to, for example, one day rival the Jamaicans and USA in Athletics on the world stage, is whether two American Performance Directors can take us to that promised land – only time will tell. One thing is for certain, the whole world will be watching, with baited breath, to see what Nigeria does, as we enter a new era for Sports in the country – let the Making of Nigerian Champions begin!