The additional African athletics centre in Nigeria would be domiciled at Ahmadu Bello University, President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Engr. Shehu Ibrahim Gusau announced in Zaria recently.
When established, the Centre, which is to be officially called ‘Confederation of African Athletics Development Centre’, will be expected to extend the frontiers of sports development within the West African Sub-Region.
At present, the only Confederation of African Athletics Centre in Nigeria was domiciled at the University of Port Harcourt in Rivers State.
Explaining the rationale for an additional African Sports Centre when AFN executive members paid a courtesy visit to the Vice-Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, Prof. Kabir Bala, the President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Engr. Shehu Ibrahim Gusau said another sports development body was needed considering the population and huge talents in the country.
Engr. Gusau also said that the AFN had already begun discussion with the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) for the establishment of the Centre in the Northern part of the country which would be sited in ABU, Zaria.
Ahmadu Bello University, according to him, had paid its dues in sporting activities in Nigeria, which made the institution to win the Federation’s heart.
He recalled that the institution participated in NUGA 24 times and finished among the top three of these games, in addition to producing several outstanding track and field athletes including two Olympians – Mary Tobiri and Francisca Idoko.
The AFN President also said that over 25 basketballers from the University were featured in the National Team at one time or another and produced an NBA player in the person of Ejike Ugboaja.
Engr. Gusau explained that the University was considered by AFN as an ideal location for citing of the additional African Athletics Development Centre, hosting of the Region II Athletics Championship as well as hosting of the Confederation of African Athletics Grand Prix, given its rich sporting background.
In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kabir Bala, thanked the AFN executive members for the support. He said the University used to be excellent in sports in the past but today it was gradually declining.
The Vice-Chancellor, who however expressed happiness for AFN’s intervention with a clear vision to help ABU, accepted to support the establishment of the CAA regional centre and hosting of the two championships.
The Director of Sports, Ahmadu Bello University, Dr. M.D.U. Audu led the AFN executive members to the Office of the Vice-Chancellor along with other key staff of the University Sports and Recreational Directorate.