In recognition of their contributions to Nigerian sports in their active days, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III has revealed plans to host Innocent Egbunike, Chioma Ajunwa and Nduka Odizor in his palace.
The monarch spoke when he received a delegation from the Nigeria Sports Development Fund Inc (NSDFI), led by its Director General, Olajide Fashikun and the Executive Director (Technical), Chief Mary Onyali.
The NSDFI is raising funds for some Nigerian athletes to train ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“I will as a monarch, as my person and as an athlete support the Elite Athlete Development Grant project.
You don’t know how much joy this project has brought to my heart.
Now, I can be more confident that the athletes you will give the grants will work harder and be so disciplined to bring glory to this country,” Oba Adeyemi told the delegation.
The Alafin added: “Whoever will make this dream possible will be reached. I will personally lead you to everywhere and anywhere we shall raise the fund.
I can see far beyond where you, the initiators, are looking.
For once, the beneficiaries will feel so honoured to be great Nigerians.
This support structure will fire them to a hilt. I see some miracles in some of the athletes. I am so happy for this great visit.
“I also wish and will demand for any of the athletes who will get the grant understand what it takes you people to raise the money.
They most be focused, disciplined, free from drugs and see how the medals will be tumbling in at Tokyo 2020.”
Oba Adeyemi, who will be 80 years by January 2019, will formally launch a project to be named after the Germany-based table tennis star, Aruna Quadri, for remembering that he could use his own community development programme to raise new generation of athletes.
He expressed happiness that some former Nigerian international athletes have decided to take the fate of the nation’s glory in their hands by reviving the dwindling standard of sports development.
Turning to Mary Onyali, the Alaafin said: “Your many outings kept me glued to the television in those days.
Tell Innocent Egbunike, Chioma Ajunwa and Nduka Odizor that I am waiting to receive them in my palace.”
Meanwhile, one of the athletes listed to benefit from the fund, female jumper, Ese Brume has commended Fashikun and Onyali for embarking on such a noble project.