Kalada, Veteran Coach, Offers Tips On Rivers Sports Dev Collins Gbarasimaye
A veteran athletic coach and sports administrator, Elder Aminokuma Kalada has advocated for grass root talent hunt and acquisition of modern sport facilities as panacea for sports development in Rivers state.
Speaking with The Vortex correspondent at his Port Harcourt residence, Elder Aminokuma said “gone were the days when poaching of athletes during National Sports Festivals was against the rules and guidelines of sports competitions while emphasis was on catching them young through school sports and Local Government Sports Championships”.
The 76 years old seasoned coach disclosed that when he was employed by the Rivers State Sports Council in 1970 as a Coaching Assistant, athletes like Chioma Ajunwa who won gold medal in Atlanta Olympics in United States of America in Long Jump was one of his athletes that he fished out and groomed to stardom, although the glory went to the national body.
According to him, others Like Mbaka Fynface in 400 meters low hurdles who won medal and left the State for greener pastures in America, Graywood Oruwari in 110 meters hurdle and J.J. Kio in Long Jump and triple Jump were all products of grassroot sports talent hunt.
He opined that it is disheartening that recent sports competitions have been characterized with alleged buying of athletes from other areas to represent the state due to lack of groomed athletes from the state.
The sports administrator also frowned at the alleged engagement of sports contractors and consultants from outside the state to package the state athletes which had never been done in years back, saying that a coach or sports administrator should know the background of his athletes from the onset in order to ensure that such athletes rise from the basics and know the sports administrators in the state as well.
He said, it is time Rivers State Sports Council search for sports administrators, train coaches and embark on early preparation for competitions through grassroot talents hunt with modern sports facilities in order to regain its lost glory in sports competitions in the country and beyond.
According to the veteran coach, talents abound and are rusting away as there is no organized local sports competition to fish out and groom them to become international stardom that would make the state and the nation proud, and appealed that sports facilities are maintained adequately.
Aminokuma also appealed to the Rivers State Government not to relent in their desire to improve sports in the state as it had become a source of livelihood to many families, and also engage the youths meaningfully while promoting healthy relationship among people within and outside the state as well as promote mental alert and physical fitness among others.
While calling on companies, corporate organizations and good spirited persons and sports philanthropists to help promote and sponsor sports competitions as government alone cannot shoulder that responsibility he advised coaches and athletes to go by the rules and guidelines, train and retrain to meet up with the modern standard, and aim at the sky as their limit, adding that with zeal and loyalty as their watchwords God will crown them with success.
The coach noted that as a retiree, he still engaged in recreational sports like playing tennis for healthy living stating that his doors are still open for coaches and athletes to seek advice.