Lagos State Swimmers in Ikorodu Local Government have appealed to the state government, elected representatives and private organizations to assist them with trainings and competitions to prepare them towards the National Sports festival holding in Edo State in the year 2020.
The swimmers, who have been representing the state at national sports festivals and other competitions, explained that they don’t want to wait for the state government which, according to them, usually calls them to camp few weeks to national sports festival, before they start preparation.
To make themselves competitively active, the swimmers, under the aegis of Ikorodu Swimming Club which is made up of 40 members, have designed a year training programme to put them in shape commencing from January 2019 to January 20202.
The athletes, who were trained by a former State Swimmer and Coach, Williams Monday, currently train at the Majidun river in Ikorodu four times a week.
Mr Benson Phillips, the Captain of the State Swimming team and Ikorodu Swimming Club, while speaking with our reporter, who witnessed their intense training sessions at Majidun, said that the team have been training alone without any support.
“Since our formation, we have been training alone without any support. We need sponsors and supports from people that can assist so that we can be competively prepared for national sports festivals and other competitions”, Benson stated.
Responding to question on preparation at the state level for national festivals and other state competitions, he said that state preparations are not always active enough.
“The kind of preparations that we get from the government is not that active. Sometimes, we don’t have training until a week to the festival. That cannot make us catch-up with the demands at the national sports festivals.”
He, therefore, called for early camping for the he state athletes towards the national sports festival next year.
“We want the state government to call us to camp early. The earlier we are expose to training, the better. Most of the Ondo and Edo States swimmers are already in camp training as we speak but in Lagos State, the government is not doing anything, they only call us to camp a month to the festival and train us for a week.
“How can we match up with those that started training for the next sports festival as soon as one is concluded? We want Lagos State Government to get us into camp earlier enough so that we can have enough time to prepare for the next national sports festival.” He appealed
Benson also added that several complaints and suggestions have been made to the State Secretary of the Swimming Association without any improvement in their conditions.
“We have been making complaints to the state officials but we don’t think that it is getting to those that can really make the difference because we have made several complaints and suggestions to the Secretary of the Swimming Association and coaches but we have not seen any change yet .
“We want our complaints to get to the Chairman of the Sports Commission and most especially, the governor of the state, so that the state can help us.”
He stated that Lagos State has lost many of her swimmers to Edo, Delta and other states because of neglect.
Aside training, the state swimming captain also called for educational sponsorship and improved welfare for the athletes to make them develop their potentials to international level and prevent other states from poaching them.
He claimed that Lagos State has lost many of its established swimmers to other states because of neglect
“These set of swimmers are still around but unfortunately, we have lost most of them to other states because of the way athletes are being handled here. There is no way Lagos State can keep the swimmers if they continue to neglect swimmers at the end of every National Sports festival. If you are representing Delta State, there are some things the government will give you , we believe that this state (Lagos) too can give us this kind of opportunities.
“ We need the government to sponsor our education and provide us with job opportunities. We also want periodical training to keep us in shape. If we can have all these opportunities here, there is no way we will not sustain the legacy. The likes of Jolomi, Yellow Weywhy and Yellow Yeyah and others were developed in Ikorodu. The state government should try and treat us right and see what we are capable of doing at the national festival.
He added that the Ikorodu Divisional Sports Association (IDSA) has also not impacted on them in any way.
“The Council has not been helping us at all. We have been lacking training and competitive games. These are what we used to have when Dr J. K Randle and Boston were still around. During their era, we were producing swimmers because we always went for competitions and that made us trained very well. That is how to bring the best out of an athlete. Ikorodu has been producing more swimmers for the state but what have been going on in term of trainings and competitions are not helpful at all.”
Also speaking on the challenges facing the swimmers, Mr Williams Monday, a former swimmer and currently the coach of the Ikorodu Swimming Club, stated that he quit swimming for the state because of lack of motivation and added that he was encouraged to engage in coaching young swimmers by the late state swimming coach, Mrs Eniola.
He also stated that Ikorodu has produced more swimmers for the state team and called for support, training and medical attention for the athletes due to the state of Majidun river where they are currently training.
“We have produced the largest number of swimmers here compared with other parts of the state in term of age-group and National Sports festival products, we have more of them here than in any other place.
“The challenges that we are facing right now is engaging these guys in competitions and providing necessary kits for them. We need sponsors. We are planning to organize a competition here and we are going to need medicals for the athletes. We also want the swimmers to be encouraged in terms of their welfare.
“We have been planning to have a competition and we are already planning for it. These young people get discouraged when they train without competing. This is a major challenge at hand.
He stated that the team has been surviving through encouragement and the hope that a glorious day would definitely come.
“We have been encouraging each other and we are all aware that we are going somewhere and that definitely changes will come one day. This is how we have been surviving.
Young members of the swimming club, Timi Sikiwe and Olopele Jerry, both of whom are students of Ipakodo Junior Grammar School, Ipakodo, called for training, monitoring, scholarship and medical intervention from the government for them to reach their peak in the sports.
When contacted, Prince Hakeem Olukunga, Member, Governing Board, Lagos State Sports Commission, who had also visited the swimmers many times since his assumption of office, told THE IMPACT that he is working with the athletes towards giving them adequate training and also organise competition for them. .
“I have visited the guys couples of time in the last few months and we have been talking on how to encourage and develop them.
“Parts of what we are looking at is organizing daily training, remuneration, open and close camping for them.
“We are also discussing about training equipment and facilities and organizing age-group competitions for them before the next National Sports festival.
“Aside training in the Majidun water, we are also looking around Ikorodu for a big swimming pool that the guys can use for their indoor training”, Prince Olukunga stated.
Also speaking with THE IMPACT, Mr Lookman Shonibare, the Chairman, Ikorodu Divisional Sports Council, said that the divisional council is still waiting for the State’s Sports Council for direction regarding the functionality of the different sporting associations.
He added that there is definitely going to be programmes at the divisional level for the swimmers in future.