Following failure of the Federal Government of Nigeria to financially back Team Nigeria for 2016 Olympic Games, the abandoned athletes have taken to social media to solicit for funds.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari met with athletes last week at the Old Banquet Hall, State House, Abuja and assured them that he would make sure he releases funds early enough ahead of the Olympics.
“Let me equally assure you that the Federal Government is fully committed to our delegation’s successful participation in the Rio Olympic Games and will ensure that funds budgeted for the Games are released without further delay,” the President said according to ThisDay.
Despite the assurance from the President, the Sports Ministry has failed to support the athletes. The athletes in the week of July 17-23 received e-mails from the Sports Ministry informing them to pay for flight tickets to Brazil themselves.
In a swift reaction, American-born Nigerian sprinter, Regina George, who represented the country at the 2012 Summer Olympics, launched a fund-raising campaign on the World’s number one personal fundraising website, gofundme.com.
GoFundMe is a crowdfunding platform that allows people to raise money for events ranging from life events such as celebrations and graduations to challenging circumstances like accidents and illnesses.
The company is based in San Diego, California It allows users to create their own website to describe what they are raising money for. During this process, members can describe their fundraising cause, the amount they hope to raise, and upload photos or video.
Once the website is created, GoFundMe allows users to share their project with people through integrated social network links (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and email. People can then donate to a user’s cause through the website using only a debit card or credit card and track the progress of their funding. Those who donate can also leave comments on the website in support of the project. GoFundMe generates revenue by automatically deducting a 5% fee from each donation users receive. If the user receives no donations, then no charge is made.
George, a silver medalist at the African Championships in 2012, who is seeking to raise $4, 000 (four thousand dollar), described her cause which she titled ‘Help get me to the Olympics’ thus: “To all my family friends and fans thanks for being here for me through the good times and bad times. This year it’s been hard financially for me but it wouldn’t have been possible without your support. I just been told that we will have to pay our own way to the Olympics this year . Sadly this is such short notice for me to come up with the money. They also promised a refund but I’m still waiting for many refunds promised in the past. I been through a lot of obstacles this year and through it all I made my SECOND Olympic team. I don’t want to stop now after I earned a spot to represent my country in the Olympics. Any donation will help my situation. This will not go unnoticed and I’m truly grateful for my supporters. Help spread the word!”
George anchored the United States 4 × 400 m team to a gold medal ahead of the Nigerian team which placed second at the 2010 World Junior Championships in Athletics. At this championship meet, George expressed her desire to run for Nigeria to Nigerian coach, Gabriel Okon.
She began to compete for Nigeria in 2012, ahead of the African Championships and London Olympics. The 2012 Nigerian champion will represent Nigeria in the 4x400m race at Rio Olympic Games which starts on 5th August.
Supporting her claim is Nigeria’s fastest man, Seye Ogunlewe, who also took to micro-blogging site, Twitter, to urge corporate organistations to rise to the needs of the country athletes. In a series of tweets, using the hashtag, #helpnigerianathletes, the son of Lagos politician, Seye Ogunlewe, lamented the sorry states the athletes are.
“Just so everyone knows we all got that message saying we should get our own tickets to Rio! #helpnigerianathletes,” he posted.
It will be recalled that there were reports that there were no funds for Nigerian athletes for the 2016 Rio Olympics., which prompted federal lawmakers to call for immediate release of funds to the Ministry of Sports to facilitate the country’s preparations at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games earlier this month.
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