Bahraini athlete, Abbas Abubakar Abbas was just 16 years old when he was scouted to swap allegiances from Nigeria, the country of his birth.
Now he is one of four Nigeria-born sprinters recruited on unique security force salary schemes who are targeting 4x400m mixed relay gold for Bahrain at next year’s postponed Olympics.
The 24-year-old, who won bronze at last year’s World Athletics Championships in the mixed relay event, has no regrets about his swap.
“In Nigeria we have many talents but we don’t know how to handle them,” he told Tidesports source.
“Of all the athletes I used to run with, I only know one in Nigeria who is still in the sport [Orukpe Erayokan]. The difference in Bahrain is the support.”
Erayokan was in demand himself in 2012 when he had just beaten Abbas at Nigeria’s National Sports Festival.
“The official for Bahrain came to my coach, but I didn’t have a phone at the time, so I didn’t know anything about it until a year later,” says Nigeria’s former national 400m champion.
“Sometimes I cry, because I know, I wish, I would have followed. In Nigeria, I often struggled to pay for the restroom after training.”
He is now attempting to keep his career on track in the UK after competing for Nigeria at the Rio Olympics,
Unlike Erayokan the young Abbas and his family talked to the officials from Bahrain after competing at the festival which is Nigeria’s premier athletics meet.
Abbas’s father was persuaded that a prodigious talent like his son’s would be wasted in Nigeria as he was given a brand new pair of running spikes and told about the kind of life awaiting for him in Bahrain.
“My father asked, ‘what about his career after sport?’ They [the representatives] said ‘Don’t worry, he will never regret it. When you finish running you can say, ‘I’m ready to go to the army’,” Abbas told our source.
“Most of the athletes from other countries here have two salaries. You have a choice: some are army; some are police. Most athletes are youths when they come to Bahrain.
“If you are running good you can make a lot of money from the federation. Even if you don’t, the money will be enough to take care of you, your family, even some people you know.”
Abbas insists he ‘always wanted to be a soldier’ and the money he has earned since moving to Bahrain has enabled his father to quit his job working for an electricity company.
Infantino Reveals How Nigeria Can Host FIFA Competitions
FIFA President, Gianni Infantino last Thursday, in Abuja, revealed how Nigeria can be made a destination for top Grade A football matches and FIFA competitions.
Infantino gave the insight when the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare took him on a tour of the renovated main bowl of the MoshoodAbiola National Stadium.
The FIFA boss, who was visibly happy with the re-grassed pitch at the stadium, said well-maintained stadia with good pitches were key to hosting grade A matches.
He said FIFA was ready to work more closely with Nigeria to develop the game and host more grade A matches in the country.
“We (FIFA) have to make sure when a country, when a government with the President, the minister and private persons are investing in football, in stadia, we work with them to give something back.
“It’s obvious that stadiums like this (MoshoodAbiola stadium) and others in Nigeria deserve the best quality games.
“They deserve top national team games, top club games and it’s not just about Nigerian football or African football, it’s about global football.
“We are working together to see what kind of new opportunities, competitions we can bring for men and women to fill this stadium and make the heart of the stadium beat for the fantastic spectacle that all of the Nigerian love, which is football,” he said.
Earlier, the minister said the Federal Government will continue to invest in sports development and facilities.
Tidesports source reports that the FIFA President, in the company of the minister, had earlier visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the Statehouse, as part of his engagement.
Why NFF Must Offset Rohr’s Salaries, Bonuses – Aikhomogbe
Former Nigerian goal keeper, Andrew Aikhomogbe has called on the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) to resolve every outstanding salaries and bonuses owed to the Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr before the next World Cup qualifiers against Central Africa Republic (CAR).
Aikhomogbe made this known on the backdrop of the football body’s recent deal with Baba Ijebu.
Although the financial details of the deal was not disclosed, Aikhomogbe in an interview with Newsmen from his base in Cairo, Egypt, stated that the NFF should use this platform to offset Rohr’s salaries and bonuses.
“It’s a big delight to know that the Nigeria Football Federation have signed a deal with Baba Ijebu and this will serve as an opportunity for them to use part of the money to pay Rohr’s salaries and bonuses.
“There is no better time to motivate him than now before Nigeria’s next 2022 World Cup qualifiers against the Central Africa Republic (CAR) on October,” he said.
Enyimba Players Vow To Support Finidi
Enyimba FC Goalkeeper, John Noble has stated that the players of the People’s Elephants will be key to the success of the newly appointed coach of the team, Finidi George.
Finidi, signed a two-year deal with Enyimba and oversaw his first full training session with the team on Thursday after a cameo appearance on Wednesday.
Speaking in a chat with Tidesports source, Noble gave his assessment of the coach in his first session under the manager and believes the former Super Eagles winger has what it takes to lead the team to the next level.
He added that the Enyimba players will be the ones to hand Finidi George his success at the club.
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