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Cash-strapped AFN can’t hold African Games trials in Abuja stadium

Officials of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) are in a dilemma over where to hold their selection camp for the forthcoming 12th African Games in Morocco as a religious programme has stopped them from holding an open trial at the National Stadium, Abuja this weekend.

The AFN was said to have scheduled the open trials for this weekend at the National Stadium, Abuja, but an order from an undisclosed source forced the body to settle for the Gateway Stadium in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State. A top official of the AFN lamented in a chat with The Guardian yesterday, “we originally planned to hold the open trial in Abuja, but we were told to look somewhere else because the venue had been booked for a church programme.

“We decided to settle for Ijebu-Ode, even though we were not prepared to hold it outside Abuja because of its financial implications. The programme in Ijebu Ode was originally meant for three days. Arrival is April 4 (today), while the open trial is supposed to hold for two days (April 5 and 6). But we just received another shocker that the Ijebu-Ode Stadium won’t be available for us on Saturday (April 6) because of a football match. What that means is that we have to hold our programmes in one day (Friday, April 6.) This is not good for athletics,” the official stated.

According to the official, the implication of the latest development is that the 100m events will have one heat and then the athletes will move straight to final, while all others, including the 200m, will have straight final. “We can’t get the best from this type of programme,” he lamented.

Meanwhile, Team Nigeria’s contingent to this year’s CAA African U-18 and U-20 Championships in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire will travel to the event by road on April 14, an official of the AFN disclosed yesterday.

According to the official, the nation’s U-18 and U-20 athletes will camp in Ijebu-Ode for the African Championship, which will hold from April 16 to 20 in Abidjan. “We have to travel by road because there is no money to pay for flight tickets,” the AFN official stated.

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