1,935 total views, 3 views today

By Amaechi Agbo

Nigeria’s sports sector has been faced with immense challenges with an increasing act of negligence and ineptitude on the part of the authorities, whose responsibility it is to look after the welfare, development of athletes and provision of facilities.

This time, another unpleasant situation arose when the Nigerian team arrived at the venue of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, BirminghamEngland in batches and while the opening ceremony was held on Thursday July 28, the Nigerian team has assembled, they arrived in England without official kits.

A UK sportswear manufacturer has revealed how it came to the rescue of the Nigerian government to produce a last-minute kit for the Nigerian team at the Commonwealth Games.

MG Sportswear in Kidderminster was asked to make hundreds of items on Tuesday after the team said its suppliers let them down.

Manager Gino Ruffinato said his 14 employees had been working around the clock to finish the garments.

When the Games start, he will personally deliver the order to Birmingham later.

Ruffinato said he initially thought Tuesday’s call from an anonymous Nigerian for the production of kits for the Nigerian team was “leftover”.

“As it progressed, I started getting emails with orders, so at that point I was like, wait, I think this is serious,” he said.

“When they gave us the deadline saying that I had to be there by Friday and today was Tuesday… there was all the fabric, the print, the designs to be out in two days. It was a bit creepy.”

The BBC reports that his team have been working long hours to fulfill the order, making 200 pieces of gear including running vests and shorts, tracksuits for staff and even 400 Nigerian badges to adorn sportswear.

The atmosphere at the factory has been “panic stations,” he joked, but said: “Everyone accepted it, worked hard and put in long hours to make sure it happened.”

Nigeria sent a 93-member team with 21 referees to Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games, which open on Thursday night. Sporting events are already underway and will continue for the next 11 days.

“I still pinch myself, I’ll watch TV and I’ll see the MG Sportswear brand for a national team,” Ruffinato said. “It is wonderful.”

Nigeria’s sports ministry, headed by Mr. Sunday Akin Dare, has been in ongoing disagreement with sponsors with many questioning the sponsor who produced the Nigerian uniform for the 2022 World Championships in Athletics in Oregon, USA.

At the 2020 Japan Olympics, it was a similar situation, as the federal government led by sports minister Sunday Dare ordered the Nigerian team to get rid of the Puma kits already produced and delivered.