The Hockey sport in Nigeria is less patronized by the Nigerian teaming population of sports lovers, unlike the round-leather game. The sport is challenged with the poor sport-support facilities, sponsorship, positive competitions, and low standard training of the athletes, coaches, and referee.
Mr. Abdullahi Ndana-Baba, Head Coach of Kada Stars Hockey Club of Kaduna has pleaded with the Nigeria Hockey Federation (NHF) to quickly improve the standard of hockey games in Nigeria. Ndana-Baba advises that the NHF needed to provide technical training and the required equipment for the competition to improve the sport’s development.
What Hockey Sport Needs To Grow
The hockey organization needs to work on the national team and individual players ahead of the upcoming African qualifiers in South Africa for the 2020 Olympic Games.’’ The hockey coach thought that some of the talents discovered at the Super League held at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja in June could readily fit in here.
- Such players could be invited to the national team for preparations ahead of the Olympic qualifiers.
- I saw some good players that can improve in the game if given good coaching, and they will thereby improve in the area of their knowledge of tactics of the game.
- We also have individual players that appear for the country and who we believe can improve in their performances at international competitions.
- Ningi notes that more investment is needed by the private sector to develop hockey in Nigeria.
He said he as a coach with other stakeholders were worried about the quality of play ahead of the qualifiers, stating that they believe the federation needs a lot of support. This (quality of play) is giving us a lot of concern because we have the African Qualifiers for the Olympics and the World Cup next year, where we will be facing some good players from different countries of the world.
Ndana-Baba then urged the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to support the NHF to enable it to assemble players in camp early enough for adequate training for the competitions. Speaking on facilities, the coach advised the NHF to always ensure the use of water sprinklers to wet the astroturf pitch at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium before any competition.
On the Other Hand
Okwudilichukwu Meyer, the coach Stallion Hockey Club of Lagos believed that Nigerian Hockey game is set to grow to the next level. Meyer said this while reviewing the training for Hockey coaches and officials in Abuja.
The training organized by the Nigeria Hockey Federation (NHF) has changed the level of Hockey in the country even as it has attracted online bets in recent times. He said that the training was organized to develop hockey sports in Nigeria.
- “The federation has done a good thing by organizing this training for coaches and umpires.
- “The training is very impactful for all participants.
- “We learned different aspects of coaching, umpiring and officiating and now have rated personnel to carry out this assignment at different levels.
- “We have been impacted on coaching levels one for secondary schools coaching and level two for club coaching, level one umpires for Juniors and level two for tournament officiating.
- “Technical level one for the technical aspects of the game and developers course to raise trainers and educators that can continue impacting officials trained,” he said.
The Blueprint for Hockey Development
Okwudilichukwu further said that the federation needed funds to organize grassroots programs for each geopolitical zone in the country.
- “We need private organizations to support us in our various programs; no plan can succeed without adequate funding.
- “These courses and facilitators’ expenses have gulped some money, without which we couldn’t achieve anything.
- “The federation gave out development sticks to different states to go catch them young in their regions.
- “With the training, I am now an FIH (International Hockey Federation) Developer with a dream to keep growing the game of hockey in Nigeria and abroad,” he said.
The Plan’s Limitations
“We have been facing some kind of challenges in hockey, especially in the aspect of the field. Our playing ground is always dry.
“The federation has to work on this. A hockey pitch has to be wet to enable the team to get a good result.
“When you have a good pitch, the players will perform to their best, and this will also encourage other youths to take interest in the game,” he said.
The country’s national male and female teams will participate in the African qualifiers for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo from Aug. 12 to Aug. 18 in South Africa.